My Word

    The National Key Points Act the government is using is an apartheid era law they should have scrapped years ago. They have resurrected it to cloak more than 200 State sites and activities in secrecy so tight not a cent can slip out. Whatever security justification they might have, it also very conveniently provides concealed conduits the ANC can use to channel taxpayers’ money into the personal pockets of people in both the State and private sectors, such as those who have illicitly profited from the multi-millions of rands used to convert the president’s personal home at Nkandla into a Zulu bundu palace.

    This venture alone places the president and his Cabinet right up there alongside such manic African rulers as the late President Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, who had a golden throne made in the form of an eagle (and also entertained himself by personally beating prisoners to death and storing human flesh in his fridges); the late President Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast who erected a giant, St Pauls-style mausoleum for himself in the bush, and the late President Mobutu of Zaire who spent billions on a huge palace complex at Gbadolite in the wilderness and stashed more billions in Swiss and other banks while his people died of starvation and warfare.

    There are many others. One of the least harmful excesses was that of the equally late King Freddie, Kabaka of the Buganda kingdom in Uganda back in the 1950s, who had the first tarred road in Kampala built direct from his (fairly modest) colonial-style palace to the home of for his mistress. It was sweetly named the “Kabaka anjagala” (not sure of the spelling) which means “The Kabaka loves me”.

    This kind of gross expenditure is common among the masses in Africa whose cultural evolution is still at feudal levels akin to those in Europe 500 to 1000 years ago. Those masses are accustomed to seeing their traditional kings or chiefs, or whatever titles they use, lavishly spend the wealth they extract from the populace because they have never known anything else. They expect it of them. They would do the same were they to become king/chief/whatever.

    Even in Africa’s most technologically advanced state which before the advent of democracy achieved by far the highest planes of infrastructure, health services, education and economic activity on the continent – South Africa – such glaring disparity continues to survive and to thrive on taxpayers’ money. A large part of the country is still owned tribally, which means by the local chief, who rents out parcels of land to his subjects. This is a huge source of income yet the State still funds these anachronistic monarchs to the tune of billions a year for palaces for themselves and their flocks of wives, cars, entertainment and travel. While briskly enforcing the resale of much commercial farmland to blacks as part of its “land restitution” policy, the ANC rulers raise not a peep about the tribal lands because they depend on the monarchs to ensure that their subjects vote for the ANC, or else.

    The consequent damage to the nation through the ill-use of tribal land, and the destruction of once productive farmland handed over to people untrained to farm, has drastically eroded South Africa’s production of food, a process that goes on and before much longer will make us a net importer of basic foods.

    The jobless folk of the poverty-stricken Nkandla region of Zululand can perhaps subdue their hunger pangs by watching the construction of the president’s personal palace with its separate homes – all linked by underground tunnels and protected by bullet-proof glass – for various wives. And if they tire of that they can stake a stroll along the new multi-million rand highway-to-nowhere being built past Nkandla. Or watch the special military protection unit drilling outside their costly new barracks. Or visit the multi-million police station sited there to make sure not even a pickpocket gets within spitting range of El Presidente.

    Perhaps they can find consolation in the president’s efforts to return the land a couple of centuries to the pre-colonial days of Shaka and Dingaan, only now with AK-47s instead of spears and shields.

    Only God and the Cabinet, who at times appear unable to distinguish between themselves and Him, know where all this will come to an end. But that it will end there is no doubt as long-suffering Africans elsewhere have shown when they wanted to quit the Third World to enter the First and ran out of patience with their leaders. Sometimes bloodily.


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