Lutz (ex-Niemoller); Listen up Cyril – here’s the antidote to your engineered derangement

It has been 15 months since our caustic ‘truthsayer’ known as Niemoller delivered a filter-free open letter to SA president Cyril Ramaphosa. After the last one, we received a complaint from a member of the local Niemoller clan, so our correspondent has changed their nom de plume to Carl Lutz. This to honour the Budapest-based WW2 Swiss diplomat who saved tens of thousands who would otherwise have been exterminated by the Nazis. The writer requires anonymity for very good reason (only the two of us know their identity). This contribution’s immense value is its ability to smash through good news filters which accompany the powerful. Described by business historian Richard S Tedlow as “derangement”, such filters are especially destructive for those, like Ramaphosa, who lead developing nations like South Africa. In his masterful book Giants of Enterprise, Tedlow describes it thus: “Derangement is not caused by the yes-man type. It is caused by the courtier who is clever or frightened enough not to be detected. These are the people who arrange a world of continual approbation for the person of power. They see to it that he or she never loses time in a traffic jam and never has cream served with coffee if milk is preferred. The courtier makes perfect for the powerful those little things which bedevil normal folk. In the process, they abstract the powerful from the real world with which even the relatively wealthy must cope.” Lutz (ex-Niemoller) once again injects a perfect antidote to Ramaphosa for his engineered derangement. – Alec Hogg

By Carl Lutz*

Dear Mr President

It’s been a while since I let off some steam. I’ve been a touch busy, like the rest of the working population, dealing with an economy in the latrine, no power, a Mickey Mouse currency, labour laws dreamt up in a socialist paradise somewhere, and a myriad other things your party has gifted to us long suffering taxpayers.

So here is my latest offering. I’m told you actually read these. Good. Read carefully. I’ll try and capture the zeitgeist. Things no one appears to tell you to your face.

Stop consulting. We don’t need you to consult. Particularly with the ANC ‘structures’. We need you to lead. Actually lead. You did it before back in your NUM days so the act of it is not foreign to you, but for some reason when you became president you became racked – paralysed – with indecision. Enough already.

I still hear thuma mina people making excuses for you. Ah yes, you need to keep the RET people happy. You need to keep powerbroker Mantashe onside. And so forth. Not so much, actually Mr President. You had four years to sort out your first term and you’ve won the leadership race by a country mile. So act. What’s the worst they can do? Spit and hiss? Recall you? Good. At least you’d have a legacy and record of someone with sufficient balls to have done the right thing, even if it took you a while. As things stand, you’re actually the worst president we’ve had in the modern era. Does anyone ever actually tell you that to your face? They should.

Well now, that interview with Andre de Ruyter came out of left field, didn’t it? Bet you didn’t see that bazooka coming. With truth being important and all that stuff, perhaps you can answer a few easy questions that reporters either aren’t asking you, aren’t able to ask you, or you ignore.

  • Did or did not Pravin Gordhan brief you after he was told by de Ruyter that senior cabinet members were involved in industrial-scale graft? If he didn’t, he’s either completely incompetent, bent himself, or you already knew. I don’t like any of those options.
  • What exactly did you do when you heard that a senior civil servant (your employee) had been poisoned?
  • Why do you insist keeping Mantashe in the job when he’s clearly not capable? Or did you appoint an Electricity Minister to do what you want him to do, but he won’t, instead of just firing him?
  • Hitachi paid a fine for graft at Medupi and Kusile. The ANC never answered this when Chancellor House was gifted a few billion. Why not?
  • Do you believe, like a senior minister averred, that in order to achieve a greater good, we must allow “people to eat a little”?
  • Can you 100% guarantee that the eight odd billion dollars coming in won’t be stolen? How? And if not, why not?
  • Have you passed the state of disaster so you could slip Karpowership through the back door?
  • Did you or did you not cringe in horror when Fikile Mbalula threw his toys out the cot and said de Ruyter must offer evidence of corruption at Eskom?
  • Did you know about the four cartels in Mpumalanga, and do you know who leads them? Have you reported this to the SAPS as per anti-corruption legislation (yes I know, but for what it’s worth).
  • Did or did you not want to die of shame and embarrassment when two plods were sent to de Ruyter and didn’t know what cyanide was, and instead interrogated him about his sinuses? And then have another senior apparatchik say criticism was unfair because they can’t be expected to be aware of “medical terms”?
  • Why did you stay silent when Mantashe accused de Ruyter of treason?

Those are easy peasy ones. More to come.

Just what on earth are you doing cuddling up to Russia and holding navy demonstrations off our coast (I was surprised to see we still had functioning vessels). And how could you possibly not condemn Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine? So there are Russian speakers in the Ukraine….and? That doesn’t excuse invading a sovereign country. This is lebensraum 2.0 or don’t you read history?

Is it because United Manganese donated $826,000 to the ANC through US sanctions-listed Viktor Vekselberg? That makes our so-called neutral stance laughable, and you know it. How can you have so little moral authority?

Russia’s trade with SA is a fraction of that with the US and the UK, but not even that moves you. Just the ANC’s trough, not the country’s future trading partner relationships. How can you make the country shoot itself in both feet? I think we know the answer. And it has nothing to do with independently minded diplomacy.

Oh dear, the reshuffle, delayed because you had a cold. Diddums. Just who in that waste of space cabinet is advising you on strategy? Let me be helpful. You are looking sub-50% in the eyes, square on. You have the opportunity to reshuffle and prove the ANC means business and is up to the task. So what do you do? You trip over your own feet.

NDZ is still in a position of power. She’s a nasty piece of work, who positively revelled in the state of disaster under Covid because it gave her unfettered power. And she came out against you on Phala Phala. So what exactly are you doing keeping her? What about Mantashe? Singlehandedly responsible for the shambles at Eskom. What about the thin edge of the wedge – our economy – and keeping an avowed communist in the job who genuinely is not up to the task? And did you not hear the groans of despair from MTN and Vodacom hearing they were getting what I believe is their 14th minister in 14 years? Cele? Come on now. The man is an idiot. After his racist outburst against that activist, you should have fired him. If we had a functioning Human Rights Commission, they would have taken him on. Cele’s useless and you know it. Motsoaledi at Home Affairs? What on earth? The place is in complete disarray and we have spectacularly well qualified people sitting for six months and longer waiting for a visa. He should be excoriated and sent to Coventry (or as Ambassador to the Sudan). I have no words about the new Electricity Minister, save for the fact that he at least appears well educated, although he cost Tshwane a few rands with the meter deal with PEU. Wait, I think that’s onomatopoeic.

And while I’m about it, the next time you talk about “transformation” and “diversity”, or describe the ANC as “non-racial”, I’ll laugh in your face. Just check out your cabinet. No diversity there, Mr President. Creecy, de Lille and Patel are the only three who could be described as “diverse”. Come on, seriously. Of all the talent in the country available to you – and just check out the goodwill from commerce and industry – that’s the best you can do?

Your comments at Mining Indaba that the private sector should quit whining and try and help were received with contempt. Maybe not to your face (and that’s a problem in itself), but in every boardroom in South Africa. Because we all know the truth. We’ve been begging to help. We have offered skills, money, anything. Because we care. Or because we’re desperate – pick one. No one can get through to your government. You are so arrogant that you don’t even think you need to talk to or meet anyone. You think you’re untouchable. For you to say something like that means you’re both deaf and blind.

You do know that we’re effectively a gangster state, don’t you? I mean here’s Intercape, having their passenger buses regularly shot at by taxis in the Eastern Cape. A law suit instructed the government to fix this and fix it fast. They’ve simply ignored it. Or frankly (and probably more likely) they just don’t know how to fix the problem. How is this ok? It’s not ok.

The Western Cape can’t build houses for the poor, because of the construction mafia. The illicit tobacco trade is now over half our industry. Over half!!!! Who in the ANC has shares in these illicit trade companies? We know who they are. So why are they being protected? Do you actually know? Tell us who they are. We deserve to know. Just fess up. It’s the first step.

Elsewhere in the country, gangs of mafia style groups threaten residents, businesses, everyone. And our intelligence capacity is completely denuded. Actually, we don’t need them. We can pay to investigate this privately, like Eskom did in despair. But once we hand over proof, we’d expect action. And it wouldn’t be forthcoming, would it? Be honest.

Moving right along. Have you lost your mind in Joburg? A coalition with the PA? They who believe that unions should be banned and all immigrants expelled (or in the alternate, the oxygen turned off of immigrants in hospitals)? These are not minor differences, Mr President. They are major policy issues. They affect the structure of our society, our approach to human rights. Do none of these things bother you at all? Perhaps if you got that over-ambitious windbag Panyaza Lesufi under control, this wouldn’t have happened. Another nasty piece of work.

Is this a practice run for 2024? Coalition with the EFF? Try that, Mr President. A couple of things will happen, and you heard it here first. One: you will go down in history as the president who wilfully chose complete destruction of our country. Two, the rand and the economy will go into freefall. And if neither of these things bother you, consider this one – the EFF will eat you alive. They may be ethnic nazis, but they’re a great deal brighter than your bunch. They’ll outmanoeuvre you in a heartbeat. Watch your back with your new deputy president. He’s an EFF apologist.

No letter is complete without reference to your major whoopsie – the stash in the sofa. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but what the heck were you thinking? How can you hide money in a lounge suite? And then not declare it to SARS either as foreign exchange, or as income? How can you have the cheek to not resign under those circumstances? When you see foreign politicians resign over issues far less grave than this, do you laugh at them? Because neither you nor any of your ministers or cabinet members ever do that. Only one, that I can recall, Pallo Jordan, for lying about his academic credentials. You can’t count Zweli Mkhize because he had RET politics in mind, so it was hardly a resignation of conscience. But back to you. You’ve ducked, dived and obfuscated over this issue. At what point are you actually going to tell the truth?

Here are some last questions for you, if you dare. My top ten, in no particular order:

  1. What does your party intend doing if you get below 45% in 2024? If it’s entering into coalition with the EFF, we need to know. Tell us now.
  2. When are you going to fire underperforming ministers? If you want a list, I’ll happily supply one. Or you could do a poll with South Africans – they’ll tell you really quickly.
  3. When are you going to apologise to de Ruyter for your appalling behaviour when he was under attack from Mantashe, and subsequently? And will you personally guarantee his safety?
  4. When are you going to put workable plans in place to protect whistle blowers? All across our nation, brave men and women risk their lives to tell the truth, and you do precisely zip to protect them.
  5. When are you and your cabinet going to send your close relatives to public hospitals and public schools (no cheating, you’re not allowed to do this in the Western Cape).
  6. When are you going to replace the 1000+ pit latrines left at schools? I’ll bet there’s money sloshing around in the education or infrastructure budget that without corruption and rent seekers involved, could pay for this to be fixed inside two months. Otherwise ask a large company to fix the problem as a favour. Pick up the phone. They’ll do it for half the cost in less than a quarter of the time. The fact that our kids are still using these is disgusting.
  7. When are you going to name the leaders of the Eskom cartels, and the cabinet members who are benefiting from large scale corruption?
  8. When are you going to name ANC senior members benefiting from the illicit trade? You can’t tell us SARS doesn’t know. They must know.
  9. When are you going to treat South Africans as equals? Read the tea leaves: most of us just want employment, education, safety and peace. Race be damned. Or is BEE really such a vote catcher that you won’t consider an alternative?
  10. At what point if ever are you going to fix local government, gangsterism, law enforcement, justice, home affairs, our economy – ok everything? We have seen enough plans. Where is the execution and who are you making responsible for it? What will happen to them if they don’t deliver?

Until next time.

Carl Lutz (until recently, Niemoller)

  • PS I’ve been asked not to use the nom du plume Niemoller anymore. Long story. So I’ve picked a new one. I like paperwork too.
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