Max du Preez

Did we have a lucky week?

2015-09-29 08:48

Max du Preez

Last week was the luckiest week of the year, according to astrologists, with Jupiter, the sun and earth all aligned and a supermoon at the end of the week to top it all.

So what did Week 39 of 2015 look like in South Africa? Did we have a lucky week?

Let’s start with a cabinet reshuffle.

The appointment of Mosebenzi Zwane as minister of mineral resources probably constitutes the most blatant middle finger President Jacob Zuma had ever shown the South African public.

Zwane has no experience of mining. He has a dubious record as a provincial MEC. This was, I can’t help but believe, what made him qualify for the key job: he is close to the Gupta family, benefactors of the Zuma clan. It is worth noting that the Guptas have recently branched into the mining business.

It was Zwane who launched the controversial R570m dairy project near Vrede, his home town, when he was MEC for agriculture. He did this soon after his return from a visit to India.

The project is managed by a company called Estina that had been given a 90-year rent-free lease by the province. The Mail & Guardian published investigations in 2013 and 2014 showing the links between Estina and the Guptas.

Zwane was also the man who invited minister Shivpal Singh Yadav of the Guptas’ home state, Uttar Pradesh, on an agricultural visit to the Free State after the minister had attended the controversial Gupta wedding at Sun City in 2013.

The outgoing minister in charge of mining, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, was just beginning to gain the respect of the industry and trade unions when he was moved. It's no secret that he had a fight with mining magnate Bridgette Radebe, wife of the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, and sister of the wife of the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa. Could this have played a role? No?

Mind you, SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s middle finger last week to the citizens was stiff competition for Zuma’s. He got another increase and now earns R3.7m per year, more than the president and the chief justice. And that while the SABC was reporting a loss of R401m.

Motsoeneng was criticised by the Public Protector for his previous big increase and the fact that he lied about his academic qualifications. He is pure politician nowadays, making statements about future state control of the media and has noisy supporters supporting him in court.

With the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority firmly in the clutches of the Zuma inner circle, South Africans’ last hope for the fight against corruption is the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela said last week that the politicians were not giving her the budget to do her job properly after some of her recent reports.

On Friday the Daily Dispatch revealed a tape recording of the registrar of the University of Fort Hare, Professor Mike Somniso, in which he discussed his plans to disrupt the Democratic Alliance’s Students Organisation on campus after they had won the student representative council elections.

These plans include bussing in ANC supporters from Alice to physically attack the DA leadership at the university and enlisting Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans to help them. The DA should not be allowed to operate at Fort Hare, Somniso is heard saying.

As I write this, the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, had not reacted to Somniso’s plans. He and his Western Cape ANC colleague, Marius Fransman, only spoke in threatening tones about the lack of transformation at Stellenbosch University last week.

The ANC-aligned student movement Sasco issued a warning last week that they were going to make Stellenbosch “ungovernable”.

Stellenbosch is rated the fourth best university in South Africa with Fort Hare in the fifteenth position.

No, I don’t think Jupiter and the moon did anything for South Africa last week.

Perhaps only the planet Uranus was aligned in our favour.

- Follow Max on Twitter.

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