Guest Column

Douglas Gibson: Politicians' talented children and those multi-million contracts

2019-10-02 06:56
DA leader Mmusi Maimane

DA leader Mmusi Maimane

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What every other commentator has overlooked is that notwithstanding Markus Jooste's generosity, the DA and Mmusi Maimane did not go easy on Steinhoff because of his happy donation, writes Douglas Gibson.

Isn't it amazing how the children of leading politicians are so brilliant and talented? The latest example is the son of Joe Biden, former vice president of the United States of America (US). He was so brilliant that he earned millions of dollars in the Ukraine – of course this had nothing to do with his father being vice-president. It was his natural brilliance and all-round competence that earned him mouth-watering amounts of money.

But we do not have to stand back for the Americans. We have every reason to be proud of our own. There is essentially no difference between the US, Ukraine and the Republic of South Africa. The children of our own leaders are every bit as brilliant. 

One only has to think of the son of our former president, Jacob Zuma, who became a multi-millionaire, courtesy of the Guptas. Of course, this had nothing to do with state capture or the fact that he was the president's son; he was recognised for his natural ability that more than equipped him to be a director of many companies and an adviser and consultant to the Guptas, royally remunerated in the process.

READ: 'The smear campaign continues' - Maimane responds to Steinhoff car hire report

Then we have the son of our current president. President Ramaphosa is a billionaire, being a major beneficiary of black economic empowerment. He was empowered over and over and over again; and over again; not because of his connections in the ANC or even his skin colour. It was Cyril's natural brilliance, which is undoubted, that made him so rich.

As a father, he was fortunate indeed to be blessed with a son who had a brilliant flair for giving counsel and advice to clients. The son in no way traded on his father's position as deputy president of South Africa, or even as the president-in-waiting. He was consulted by the firm that used to be known as Bosasa and he earned some millions in a short time for the sage advice he gave, despite being so young. 

The fact that everyone in politics had known for a decade or more that Bosasa – not to put too fine a point on it – was dodgy in the extreme, was quite rightly ignored by Ramaphosa junior. He no doubt belongs to the people who honour our Constitution by stating, ad nauseam, "innocent until proven guilty".

It is quite refreshing in this context to know that Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition, is different. Not only is his son far too young to have revealed his natural brilliance, (which of course may well be revealed by the time Mmusi becomes the president) but he has shown that he cannot be bought, not even by Markus Jooste.

Fingers have been pointed at him because he drove a hired car, made available by Steinhoff to the DA. What every other commentator has overlooked is that notwithstanding Jooste's generosity, the DA and Maimane did not go easy on Jooste or on Steinhoff because of this happy donation to the DA. On the contrary, the DA more or less led the charge and demanded action and accountability when it would have been so easy to have remained quiet because of the generosity of Steinhoff before its ghastly actions became known.

The difference between Maimane and the DA in opposition and the ANC government – whether of the President Zuma or the Deputy President or President Ramaphosa variety – is that generous contributions to the party did not, and could not, lead to multi-year, multi-million contracts, especially those that, of course, had nothing to do with the fact that the brilliant and supremely talented children of the leaders had been targeted by the corrupt.    

- Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

Read more on:    joe biden  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  jacob zuma  |  mmusi mai­mane
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