Tag: pravin gordhan

Pravin moves on after quickie divorce

It is in the nature of my job to be a cynic and a sceptic. I take nothing at face value and always believe the worst. Give someone the benefit of the doubt? Please. That’s about as likely as seeing me in church on a Sunday.

However, I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I failed this week in my capacity as a professional doubter and detractor. When I woke to the news that three of the ANC’s top six, the party’s integrity commission, ANC veterans, Cosatu, the Communist Party, churches and civil society groups were united in their call for President Jacob Zuma to stand down, I felt a twinge of hope. I was not so far gone as to be countenancing faith, but that tiny twinge grew stronger overnight as it fed off my dreams of a better future for all. By the time the ANC National Working Committee had ended its crisis meeting, I was telling anyone who would listen that this might well be it. That Zuma had finally played his last card and the entire disgraceful edifice he’d constructed around himself would come crashing down and Wednesday would see the country’s streets and bars filled with people half mad with joy.

Then came the historic press conference that I thought would put South Africa on the road to recovery. Secretary general Gwede Mantashe, looking increasingly like a well-used stress ball, was slumped in his chair, his wounds freshly licked and still raw. As he started speaking, the swelling balloon of hope in my heart began deflating like a plastic soccer ball headed by Jesus wearing his crown of thorns.

Confirming that he and his two fellow invertebrates, deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa and treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, are in an abusive relationship with the president, Mantashe said, “We must find it adult enough to close the door, beat each other up, if you find me with a blue eye, I must develop a narrative that I bumped a pole rather than going public with disagreements.” In other words, it is always better to lie than tell the truth. I happen to agree with him on this.

He also said that the ANC “has reflected on the calls by the SACP and COSATU amongst others for President Jacob Zuma to resign from his position as the President of the Republic of South Africa.” I tried that once with one of my ex-wives when she cornered me over her alleged repeated requests that I unblock some or other inconsequential drain. Looking her square in the eye, I said, “I have reflected on your requests.” She seemed to expect more but eventually lost interest and wandered off.

So on Wednesday I coughed up my nugget of hope, now all shrivelled and manky, and went to the pub to rinse the bile from my throat. There, I met a man who claimed not to care about politics. Or even understand how our government works. He said he was just there to drink and asked me not to bother him. I put him in a half-nelson and polished off his beer while he begged for mercy.

“Get a grip,” I said. “You’re behaving worse than Ramaphosa.” He didn’t know what a Ramaphosa was, so I got him to buy me a drink and began explaining the entire sordid business from Marikana to McDonalds.

I also had to explain to this sad bag of rags that in the old days there were three branches of government – the executive, the legislative and the judicial – but today there are dozens of branches. These are known as ANC branches. I told him to imagine the executive as a shark and the ANC branches as suckerfish that cling to and feed off the parasites on the shark. Imagine, I said, that the parasites are Cosatu and the Communist Party. And maybe the ANC Youth League.

“Remoras,” he shouted, and fell off his stool. I kicked him gently in the head to bring him to his senses. Order Perciformes, family Echeneidae. They eat the host’s shit,” he said, giggling uncontrollably before appearing to die.

Even though with his final sentence he seemed to be grasping the metaphor admirably, I cannot abide ichthyologists who can’t hold their drink. I kicked him twice for good measure and left swiftly.

So. Comrade Greedy, I beg your pardon, Gwede, admitted that the dumbest “intelligence report” ever created by someone over the age of five was not, as initially stated by Zuma, the sole reason Pravin Gordhan was fired. Saving what little remains of the president’s face, the Working Committee came up with a reason more suited for adult consumption.

“The NWC has accepted the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between the President and a member of his Cabinet (Gordhan) as sufficient explanation for the decision taken by the President.”

Look, relationships take work. Not mine, obviously. At the first sign of trouble, I’m out of there. But these are grown-ups we’re talking about. If they’d just taken the time to consider each other’s needs, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Would it have hurt either of them to occasionally send flowers or call just to say I’m thinking about you? And why the quickie divorce? What happened to relationship counselling? It’s all too sad.

So to get back to what I was saying. My flirtation with hope flared and died before it could ripen into a full-blooded emotion. It was crushed like a handful of marijuana on the last day of Afrika Burn. I have now returned to my natural state of cynicism, scepticism and ostracism.

I have, in fact, gone one step beyond. Madness, you may say, but these are the times in which we live. The only way we can beat these swine is with a baseball bat but there are too many of them and not enough bats. So we join them. I have already drafted my letter to the head of the government’s human resources department.

Dear Mr Gupta,

Forgive me for not knowing if it’s Atul, Rajesh or Ajay in charge of human resources this week. You guys have your fingers in so many pies it’s hard to know what’s happening. Maybe that’s why you all look so healthy. Too much of pies. Just kidding. I am a big pie man, myself. Mutton curry, mainly. I’m talking proper Verulam mutton, here. Not that Umlazi goat mutton.

Thing is, I am having a problem because I can’t afford to keep myself in the manner to which I ought to be accustomed. As a white man I should be well off, but something terrible must have happened and now I am only well off my face. This is why I am hoping you can give my life a skommel. Put me somewhere with a nice salary and maybe one, two perks.

Don’t put me in the cabinet. I’ve just come out of the closet. That’s a gay joke. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Also, I’m not gay so it’s not really a joke. A cabinet position is like the kiss of death. It’s like being given a poisoned chalice except you don’t have to drink the poison and you get to sell the chalice over and over again. Or something.

I want to be low key but high flying, if you know what I mean. Of course you do. You invented that thing. Smart move. I call it the Dubai Shuffle. But you’re all still South Africans, right? Good for you. It’s the 97th best citizenship in the world to have. And yet we can’t help being morons.

Take that Mcebisi Jonas fellow. You give him free dops in your en-suite shebeen, offer him the position of finance minister and still throw in a R600-million bonsella but he shakes his head and walks away, later making all kinds of affidavits and whatnot about this generous offer that was obviously never made.

This won’t happen with me, uncle. I’m not bluffing you. When you do your next reshuffle, give me maybe director general in tourism and let’s say R50-million and you won’t hear from me unless I hear from you.

Your man in the struggle,

Benjamin “Buttons” Trovato

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A letter to President Zuma

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Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Owner of Property in Nkandla, Shuffler of Cabinets and Destroyer of Things, I hereby greet you.

First of all, allow me to congratulate you. It doesn’t matter on what. You can decide. The important thing is that a man of your intellect is congratulated on a regular basis.

Well done, though, on deposing the ringleaders responsible for attempting to boost our economy. The last straw came when that seditious anarchist posing as our finance minister flew off to sell South Africa to investors in Britain. Not even Pravin Gordhan has the right to sell South Africa, even though he’s a Durban ou and would have given them a good price and all.

The real purpose of his mission was obviously to buy heavy calibre calculators and recruit mercenary accountants for a rebel army. You know what these financial types are like. Beneath their dimpled, chubby exteriors lurk lean, mean killing machines. Or worse, adding machines. It’s a good thing you have moved fast on this. Without your intervention, the Union Buildings would be overrun by well-educated polyglots and we’d all be speaking algebra by Christmas.

I am among the millions of patriotic South Africans silently applauding your firing of Gordhan and other free-thinking radicals of his ilk. I say silently because most of us are either savagely hungover or too weak with disease and hunger to engage in the physical act of clapping. We need to conserve our energy so that when 2019 rolls around, we will be able to crawl to the nearest polling station and vote for the ANC. Many of us won’t have the strength to make it back home and will probably die right there in the ballot booth. This is a small price to pay for keeping in power the most glorious political party Africa and indeed the world has ever seen.

You’re a genius, boss. By turning your reshuffle into a bloodbath, nobody could accuse you of gunning specifically for the finance minister and his deputy. It’s a bit like the way Israel bombs an entire Palestinian suburb just to get one cheeky Hamas commander. Sure, your scattergun approach is a bit rough on the others, but there are casualties in any war and I’m sure they are all very grateful for even having had the opportunity to buttress their bank accounts … I mean, serve the people.

Brilliant move making Malusi Gigaba minister of finance. A man who knows his way around the Saxonwold shebeen, he might not be the brightest but he’s a snappy dresser and that’s all that really counts in this portfolio. Also, he speaks English like a proper Zulu and his “Christian” name is Knowledge. What more do you need? Best of all, his sexiness will deflect attention away from the man really running the ministry – his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi.

According to Who’s Who Southern Africa, Buthelezi  is or maybe was the chairman of Robben Island Ferries and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, both of which are considered not so much efficient modes of transport as they are unreliable death traps.

He’s done some other stuff, too. Banking. That sort of thing. As long as he keeps taking calls from our government in exile in Dubai, he’ll do just fine.

Good move, too, making Faith Muthambi minister of public service. With the unemployment rate higher than a Rastafarian on Haile Selassie’s birthday, the public no longer expect to be served and the comrade will therefore not be required to fill her usual quota of damage.

And nice work retaining social development minister Butterbelly Dlamini. It’s important to have someone in cabinet who consistently sets the bar at its lowest so that everyone else shines by comparison.

Your real masterstroke, though, was appointing Fikile Mbalula as Minister of Police. I, for one, look forward to stepping over the bodies of criminals who have died laughing.

What’s this I hear that three of your top six are unhappy? Have you run out of funds to guarantee their support? If Squirrel Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize have turned rogue, you know what to do. No, not the elephant option. It’s too soon to start shooting dissidents. That comes in your seventh term as president.

You need to kick their arses to the curb and issue a decree that the top six shall henceforth be known as the top three. If you start getting bad vibes from Baleka Mbete and that other one with the face, kick their arses to the curb, too. Then it’s just you – the top one. Round up the judges, muzzle the media and Bob’s your uncle. Is Bob your uncle? He certainly behaves as if he has a strand or two of those magnificent Zuma genes.

Speaking of Squirrel, he briefly showed signs of developing a spine but then decided to stand by his man. Good for him. The best kind of loyalty is the dumb, unquestioning kind. Tell your ex-wife to be nice to him when she is in charge.

I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss. The only people who stand to get hurt in all of this are the poor. You’d think they would be used to it by now. They can’t afford petrol, food or medicine whether the cabinet is reshuffled or not, so no real harm is done by getting rid of the clevas and deploying the fawners and flatterers who have been waiting so anxiously for their turn at the trough … I beg your pardon, their turn to serve the nation.

I like the way you use the delusively jejune phrases “radical economic transformation”. It appeals to your semi-literate power base as well as to white people, who know that nothing ever changes for them. Whatever delightfully reckless decisions you take, they get to keep the Range Rover, the tennis lessons and the beach house. If you really want to hurt them, take away their satellite dishes and shut down Woolworths.

I have a friend who said he preferred it when you were a cavorting, giggling, marrying kind of president. A good-natured, bumbling, harmless buffoon, as it were. He said he doesn’t like what he described as “the new vicious, lying, sociopath you”. He wanted to know where the fun you had gone. I called him a shallow imperialist dog and threatened to beat him soundly. He threatened to drink all my whiskey so we called it a draw.

So, what a week it’s been. I thought it a bit rude of Ahmed Kathrada to die on the very day that you were planning to fire Gordhan for gross competence. We didn’t know at the time, of course, that you were also planning a clean sweep of all the other embarrassingly capable members of your cabinet. You must have been terribly upset having to wait a few days before beginning the bludgeoning, particularly since you have come to rely on Indians to be there when you need them.

I believe the family foundation requested that you stay away from the funeral. They probably thought you’d be so overcome with grief that you’d cause a scene with your singing and dancing. Or did you and Uncle Kathy have a fall-out? I’m sure it was over something trivial. He probably insisted on the constitution being respected or was against the idea of state capture. Ridiculous. That’s the elderly for you.

By the way, nice work getting a few of those communists out of government. PW Botha would be proud of you. If any of the leftover bolsheviks like Blade Nzimande start causing trouble, send them to the gulags. Do we have gulags? We must at least have a salt mine somewhere. When apparatchiks go bad, they need to be severely punished. It’s the only language they understand.

And whatever happens, keep pushing that collective responsibility ruse. I think it slipped your mind a bit this week. If the rand falls and the economy nosedives, it’s only right that those who survived the cull get to share the consequences. And by consequences I obviously mean financial spin-offs.

Anyway, comrade leader. It’s time for my evening weep. As the sign on the back of the taxi says, “When days are dark and friends are few …” I don’t know how it ends. The taxi rolled before I could read the rest.

Data is the curse of the drinking class

If my column makes less sense than usual, you can blame MTN. I am currently without a landline, you see. It’s not that I haven’t tried to get one but everybody I talk to wants proof of address. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to prove anything without eyebrows being raised. These tedious muffin-eaters insist that a photo of me at my desk accompanied by a hand-drawn map is not the kind of proof of residence they’re looking for.

So I have spent the last few months accessing the internet via a hotspot on my phone. Don’t worry. This was also gibberish to me the first time I heard it. Data is a bit like beer. One minute you think you have loads and suddenly there’s nothing.

Until fairly recently, I wasn’t aware that you could buy data over the phone. I’d get a message in the early evening telling me that I had run out. During the day, no problem. I’d drive 10kms to the shops and buy more. But after hours? What the hell was I meant to do? I’d pace anxiously or

lie awake for hours twitching and sweating and clawing at my skin. I’d often be the first person at the mall, hanging around the entrance pale and trembling, unable to make eye contact with the car guards.

Then I discovered you could punch in a few numbers on your phone and buy data, just like that. I could lie in bed and within seconds be returned to that magical, diabolical realm where something could happen anywhere in the world and I’d instantly know about it. I don’t have a fear of missing out. I have a fear of not knowing. It’s unlikely to become a thing because Fomo is so much more of a catchy acronym than Fonk.

On Wednesday at 1.45pm I ran out of data. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was due to deliver his budget in parliament at 2pm. This is a man who is fighting a rearguard action on all fronts. Actually, his enemies don’t often come from the front. Being the craven curs they are, they’re far more likely to come slinking up from the back.

I needed to watch this speech. Anything could happen. It was probably Gordhan’s last stand. This was a major public test of loyalties and if I missed it, I’d regret it forever. Also, I’d have nothing to write about.

Then, at 1.47pm, I had a moment of great clarity. “Fuck that!” I shouted, scaring a couple of idiot doves who had wandered into my lounge looking for food. I don’t know why they think they’ll find birdseed scattered all over my floor.

“I’m not giving those MTN robber barons R260 for two miserable gigabytes so that I can watch the budget speech.” The doves blinked at me. Then the bigger one tried to climb onto the smaller one’s back. If ever there was a sign that I should go to the nearest bar and use their free wifi, this was it.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. MTN is forcing me, and who knows how many other decent God-fearing citizens, into daytime drinking in bars with free wifi.

Thanks to MTN, I am a fairly familiar figure in this particular bar. They know what I want. This is more than I can say for myself. On Wednesday there was a newbie behind the bar. A puce-faced callow youth who did a rubbish job of not showing signs of panic at the sight of a red-eyed unshaven possibly homeless man setting up what appeared to be a crude office in the corner. I despised him for not instinctively knowing what to bring me. Do I have to spell it out? Beer, I snarled, lashing a pair of cheap headphones to what little remains of my head.

I was just in time for Pravin to take the podium. He got a standing ovation, even from members of his own party. This was a good start. I quickly worked out a system of drinking, taking notes, eyeballing the talent and flicking back and forth between the speech, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Pornhub in case something happened that I needed to know about.

Look, the finance minister’s delivery is positively electrifying compared to Jacob Zuma’s, but put him in Nuremberg in 1938 and I dare say people at the back would start drifting off, even if it meant risking a bullet from one of the marshals.

I made it thirty minutes in before suffering my first neurological collapse. Fortunately it was gradual and the glass never shattered against my forehead. It seemed to affect my already frosty relations with the moron bartender, though, and he stopped asking if I wanted another after that. I wasn’t about to ask him for one, either. I have my pride.

Anyway. The entire speech was not only available online the moment Gordhan started talking, but a menagerie of civic-minded journalists were live-tweeting the entire affair. I’d hear him say something and seconds later 15 reporters would repeat it with varying degrees of accuracy. There was no point in me being there. I downloaded the speech, bought nine cases of beer and went back to my shack for some serious political analysis.

When I regained consciousness the speech was long over. That’s the nice thing about Cape Town in summer. You can take spontaneous naps and when you wake up it’s still light at 7.30pm and you don’t feel you’ve wasted the entire day.

I saw clips of the end of the speech. It seemed to go down well. Another standing ovation. Apart from a handful of ministers who pointedly drew the nation’s attention to their undying commitment to the Gupta family by being the only people who didn’t stand up and applaud. To be fair, our top-heavy social services minister Bathabile Dlamini was possibly unable to get to her feet by that stage, although she did show signs of life when Gordhan announced an increase in alcohol tax.

I don’t know what people are complaining about. If another 12c for a can of beer is going to devastate your family, perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking.

Gordhan told us that 10% of the population owns 90% of the wealth. Why give us this information and then withhold their names and addresses? How are we meant to send them begging letters or even petrol bomb their homes? Don’t taunt us, Gordhan.

The speech is littered with references to millions, billions and even a few trillions being allocated to this, that and the other thing. Lest we forget, R46-billion was stolen or squandered by civil servants in the last fiscal year. That’s enough to fill every swimming pool in the country with single malt whiskey. At the next budget speech, I expect to see thousands of white collar criminals paraded outside parliament in leg irons so that we may hurl abuse and other things at their loathsome heads. If there’s one thing this country needs, it’s catharsis.

Meanwhile, there’s good news for the country’s 17 million spongers – I beg your pardon, social welfare beneficiaries. Child support has rocketed to R380, which is more than enough if your child doesn’t eat and prefers walking around naked. Pensioners will be getting a whopping R1 600 a month so no more clogging up the aisles listlessly checking prices on every item. You’re getting in the way of the really poor – the shoplifters. You’re rich now. Load up your trolleys and get out. Also, drive faster.

My best bit was when Gordhan announced a 45% tax rate for people earning more than R1.5m a year and then, to a deathly quiet house, urged people to clap. The sound of the country’s top wage earners looking for their passports was louder than the applause.

But it wasn’t the only reverse-Machiavellian backflip with half-twist that he deployed, either. Breaking into a poorly rendered indigenous language followed by the English translation, he managed to look at Jacob Zuma without actually looking at him and said, “If lions work as a team they will bring down even a buffalo.”

Deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa wasn’t sure how to react. On the one hand, he is really fond of buffaloes. On the other, he really wants to be president. Tough call. He settled for his inscrutable comrade capitalist smile.

Your turn, Mr President

Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, by the Grace of God President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Unifier of the Nation, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the Apartheid Regime and Owner of Property in Nkandla, greetings in the name of the third democratic revolution.

I say third because, as you may have heard, the second has been hijacked by students and the less said about it the better. In fact, you’ve had less to say than anyone. Do you even know there’s trouble at the universities? Perhaps you don’t get the papers any more. If I were you, I wouldn’t. You have enough on your plate, and I’m not talking about that kudu haunch drizzled with warthog jus, either.

Some say democracy and revolution make uneasy bedfellows. That’s rubbish. Uneasy bedfellows would be Julius Malema and Steve Hofmeyr. As you probably know, democracy is a Greek word invented by Plato. ‘Demo’ means ‘the people and ‘cracy’ means ‘are crazy’. An example of this is how 62% of the electorate voted for you and your party to remain in power for another five years.

And what a party it’s been. Especially for you. Not everyone gets the chance to travel the world, meet interesting people (Asians, mostly), play Monopoly with real money and chess with real pawn-people. If there’s one thing you do have, it’s time to spare. That’s the beauty of rule by collective. You take the money and the overseas trips, they take the responsibility.

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair here. I’m sure you’re very busy. A man in your position must spend at least six hours a day with his lawyers. That only leaves 18 hours for the wives. It sounds a lot, but it’s not really. Not when you have four wives. What does that work out to? Just over four hours per wife? No, wait. You dumped one of them after she tried to poison you.

Anyway, whatever time you have left in the day is probably spent helping your kids with their homework, tender applications and impending lawsuits. I can’t work out what that is divided between 22 children. That’s why I’m not your finance minister. Although if you had your wits about you, you’d dump that tight-fisted Gordhan and appoint me at once. I’m a reckless fool when it comes to money. You could take me out for lunchtime drinks and the Treasury would be yours by sunset.

I appreciate, though, that discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to snatching the organs of state. I don’t even understand what I’ve just written, that’s how much of an idiot I am. This is starting to sound like a job application. I do apologise.

I admire you for having the intestinal fortitude to continue going through the motions as head of state. For instance, early last week you addressed something called the South African heads of missions conference in Pretoria. Who are these people? No, wait. Don’t tell me. Upstanding citizens like Bruce Koloane who allowed friends of the Guptas to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, Mohau Pheko who lied about having a PhD and Sibusiso Ndebele who is facing corruption charges.

You told our diplomats a side-effect of democracy was that “processes tend to be slower”. This must be very frustrating for you. Progress is not achieved through committees. It is achieved through seizing the moment, the state-owned enterprises and, ultimately, the Treasury.

I am reluctant to quote you back at yourself, but this one has a special place in my heart. “Democracies go through difficulties, precisely because they are democracies. Only in the autocratic dictatorships … there are no problems. When the ruler says they want a bridge here, there is no debate, the bridge will be constructed. No one says there is no money.”

Precisely. Take, for instance, the bridge over the River Kwai. If Pravin Gordhan had been in charge of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942, things would have been very different. Emperor Gordhan would have said there is no money for a railway and thousands of British prisoners of war wouldn’t have died building the Burma-Siam line. Thank god for autocrats like Hirohito.

And let’s not forget North Korea, one of our brightest stars in the firmament of autocratic dictatorships. Kim Jong-un might have had his hairdresser’s eyes plucked out so the commoner could never gaze upon the Loinfruit Leader’s glorious countenance, which is only right, but one cannot deny that the man gets things done. Despite selfish western sanctions, his nuclear programme continues apace. When he feels like launching a rocket to see if it is capable of reaching Washington DC, even factoring in the added weight of a nuclear warhead, he doesn’t ask permission. He doesn’t ask if there’s money. He just does it. This is why we love Kim.

The other alternative to democracy is, of course, a benevolent dictatorship. This is my personal favourite. Wikipedia says “a benevolent dictator portrays himself as compassionate and altruistic, allowing for some decisions to be made by a democratic process. A benevolent dictator remains in power only while the people allow him to.”

This, comrade president, describes you perfectly. If we ignore words like compassionate and altruistic, naturally.

Your final option – and this is where it gets interesting – is the military dictatorship. We had that under PW Botha. No reason it can’t work again. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the same army, is it? There are no pilots for our jets and the submarines are up on bricks. Also, the infantry is on sick leave. Perhaps the MK Veterans’ Association can prop you up.

You’re right, though. Things move painfully slowly in a democracy. You’re a fast mover – a man who likes to get things done. Look how fast you moved the other day when Thuli Madonsela sent you that list of questions. In no time at all, you were off to Kenya on a state visit.

You told our diplomats, “When people say to you, what is happening in South Africa, why these protests? Tell them it is democracy. When they say why does it look like the ruling party is fighting? That is democracy.” I suppose it could work. It might be better, though, if, faced with difficult questions, our diplomats simply exercised their right to remain silent.

We spend R3.2-billion a year on 122 diplomatic missions abroad. The only country better represented on foreign soil is America, with 126 missions. We need to beat America. Can’t you open a few more embassies or have we run out of countries? They don’t have to be fancy. Perhaps something along the lines of our least expensive embassy, which happens to be in Belarus’s glittering capital Minsk and costs a mere R5-million a year.

Anyway. Good luck with your court application to prevent the public protector’s report on state capture from being released. If the judge asks any awkward questions, get your lawyer to blame democracy. The same goes with Pravin Gordhan. If ratings agencies want to know why your boys in the Hawks are prosecuting the finance minister, tell them that’s democracy.

If things get too hot, you can always take another trip. I hear the weather in Dubai is lovely at this time of year.

An open letter to Shaun Abrahams, director of the National Prosecuting Authority

Dear Comrade Shaun,

Congratulations on rounding up the finance minister and two of his former henchmen from the SA Revenue Service. Like you, I despise people who understand numbers. They aren’t to be trusted. Numbers can mean anything depending on what you do with them. This is why your man, President Zuma, has trouble reading figures more than three digits long. And I need not remind you, of all people, what a trustworthy, reliable, honest person our leader is.

I see you are an advocate. Well done. Your title is so important that it even had a drink named after it. No, wait. I’m thinking of advokaat. Dreadful stuff. Rich and thick, like a lot of people in the legal profession.

You were admitted to the Bar a few years ago. I was admitted to the bar twenty minutes ago. Now I’m just waiting for happy hour. Sorry. That’s a drinking joke and this is not the time to be telling jokes. It is, however, the time to be drinking.

Prosecution is too good for the likes of Pravin Gordhan. The nation was shocked when they got wind of the heinous crime he committed while head of Sars back in 2010. Approving a colleague’s early retirement then rehiring him as a consultant is right up there with Stalin’s purges, if not the Holocaust.

Gordhan should be strung up by the heels and publicly whipped. Better yet, turn him over to the Saudis. They know what to do with people who approve early retirement packages.

None of this would be happening if Gordhan hadn’t dissed you when you ordered him to present himself for a warning statement in August. Basically, he told you to get stuffed. What’s the point of being sheriff if people don’t obey you? It reminds me of when I was made prefect in primary school.

This one red-headed kid kept ignoring my commands so I burnt the school down. It didn’t matter that everyone was affected. The important thing was that this boy suffered for disrespecting the rank of prefect. You, sir, are this country’s über-prefect, and even though your decision to prosecute the finance minister has caused the price of bread to rise and my retirement savings to shrink, I still respect your rank.

It seems, though, you might be prepared to reconsider if Gordhan makes the appropriate grovelling noises. I doubt he will, though. He comes from Durban.

Some people are whining that your decision caused the rand to fall by three percent. Oh, please. I got three percent for maths in tenth grade and I turned out just fine. Comparatively, anyway. These thin-lipped critics with their knowledge of numbers also say that nearly R50bn was wiped off the JSE’s banking index. People like us don’t even know what the JSE is. And we care even less. Right, Shaun? The important thing is to crack down on the evil-doers. Obviously you need to prioritise. Get the real criminals before they do even more damage. Let this one slide and the next thing you know, everyone is getting an early retirement package.

Once the finance minister is safely behind bars, you need to move on the jaywalkers and the litterers. Are you perhaps prosecuting people alphabetically? If, for instance, there was someone whose surname started with Z and who should, for argument’s sake, be expected to answer, say, 783 charges, you probably wouldn’t get around to him for 50 years at least. Can’t get fairer than that.

The timing of your announcement was perfect. Gordhan is due to deliver the medium term something-or-other in parliament in a few days. It’s important to distract him so that he makes mistakes. We need to minimise the risk of him showing up his cabinet colleagues as a mob of mouth-breathing imbeciles. Nobody likes a smartarse.

Come to think of it, Gordhan never even scored a cent from his crime against humanity. That’s not very smart at all. We have countless civil servants managing to successfully loot state coffers every day without being caught. Good for them. Your disinterest in prosecuting suggests that you, like me, have a grudging respect for competent career criminals.

All the president wants Gordhan to do is rotate the country’s gold reserves like Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson did with our oil reserves. Okay, so a billion rand went missing in that deal, but rotating is a tricky business. Incidentally, a couple of liberationists got into my house last weekend and rotated my laptop and camera.

As you know, the problem is that Gordhan selfishly keeps the keys to the treasury on a chain around his neck. We need a minister who will make copies for his friends. The Guptas, for instance, briefly had a key but then lost it when Des van Rooyen ended his weekend stint as finance minister.

The other problem with Gordhan is that he keeps allocating money to doomed causes like education and health instead of helping secure nuclear power deals with our Russian friends. My first choice for Gordhan’s replacement is Fikile Mbalula. Why not? Send in the clowns, I say.

Getting the Hawks to swoop on the finance minister’s home with a summons first thing in the morning was a stroke of genius. This would have sent a clear message to his grandchildren or any other relatives being harboured in his house that the NPA is not to be trifled with when it comes to the illicit granting of early retirement.

Unfortunately, Gordhan had already left for work so your men had to go all the way to his office. What kind of monster goes to work that early? This is another reason he belongs in jail. Putting in a solid day’s work sets a dangerous precedent and creates expectations that simply cannot be met. Diligence must be crushed as a matter of priority.

Your timing was impeccable, serving the summons on Gordhan just after returning from New York where he encouraged business leaders to invest in South Africa. Does the man have no shame? Few of us have the money to go overseas and by jetting off like that, he is rubbing our noses in our own poverty. Fortunately, your decision to prosecute him will ensure that nobody apart from maybe Whitey Basson and Patrice Motsepe will be able to travel further than Nelspruit. If, by bringing Gordhan down, you cripple our economy in the process, so be it. What is the rand, anyway? It’s just paper.

Even after getting the summons, Gordhan continued mouthing off. “The fight against corruption‚ maladministration and waste of public resources will continue,” he threatened from his leafy rebel hideout in Waterkloof.

It’s this kind of radical talk that will destroy our country. Can you not slap him with a gagging order? Why can he not emulate our awesome president and not comment on anything? Why does he not take leave instead of decisions?

While doing research to make sure you are who you say you are, I came across some interesting information. Your favourite movie, for example, is Gladiator. I get the fantasy of trapping people in a net and poking them with a trident, but I can’t help thinking you’re less of a Russell Crowe and more of a Karl Pilkington. Do you know him? He was in a series called An Idiot Abroad.

I also learnt that your mother’s nickname for you is “Pikkewyntjie”. In a language everyone can understand, that means “Little Penguin”. Apparently it was because of the way you walked as a baby and not, as one might imagine, because of your habit of spearing raw fish with your beak. If you face Gordhan in court, I think you should waddle like a penguin. That would throw him off balance.

I particularly enjoyed this quote from your mother. “He was really not an academic boy. Always rugby, rugby, rugby. I would battle to get that child to study.” As we know, rugby has produced some of this country’s finest minds. Look at Bakkies Botha. Man, that oke are clever like a fox.

Do you know who else you should prosecute? The Public Protector, that’s who. Not Busisiwe Mkhwebane. She’s on the team. I’m talking about the renegade Thuli Madonsela. Summons her to answer charges of impugning the dignity of the president. What that poor man has gone through at her hands.

Now that she is no longer in office, there is nobody to protect her. Well, I suppose the public might. In which case, prosecute the public. Issue summonses for all 53 million. Even if they say they have done nothing wrong, I’m sure you will come up with something.

Finally, thanks to you, we can all sleep a little sounder in our beds at night knowing that Pravin Gordhan isn’t out there somewhere, wilfully approving early retirements.

Viva.

Pravin’s mid-term sleight of hand

In his mid-term budget review this week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan … hey, wake up! This is important, dammit. It’s your money we’re talking about here.

What’s that? You don’t care? You’re suffering from corruption fatigue? Not good enough, I’m afraid. We’re all sick and tired of seeing our taxes getting sucked into a black hole, and by black hole I don’t mean to be racist. Quite frankly, I don’t think white holes are any better than black holes.

My skills as an economic analyst are a little on the rusty side, not having practiced them for, like, ever. What I can say, though, is big up to Pravin for throwing a spanner in the public works in a brave attempt to cut off some of the gravy that’s feeding the train. Cut off or divert? It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The downgrading of perks, implemented across government, could save R2-billion. That was done with his left hand. With his right hand, Pravin allocated R2.25-billion to the civil servant wage bill. It would be like Peter paying Paul if they hadn’t emigrated to Perth.

Lesser financial analysts than I were reporting that Pravin had drawn a line in the sand on state spending. Why are they not saying that he has chiseled a line in bedrock? By couching Pravin’s actions in such a mealy-mouthed fashion, it gives him a way out. When his tight guidelines are surreptitiously loosened by agents of the status quo, he can turn around and shrug and say, “Well, you said it was a line in the sand, remember?”

I saw on the news that Pravin was expecting a 4.3% budget deficit in 2013/14. I don’t know what this means. Do we break out the champagne or the razor blades? I don’t even know what year he is talking about. Nobody says, “Yeah, I’m hoping to get off heroin in 2013/14.” If we can pin our plans down to a particular year, so can he.

From December 1st, there will be no more official credit cards, million-rand vehicles, luxury hotel stays and expensive home upgrades for cabinet ministers. Pravin pulled this off in what was reported as “a last-minute agreement with cabinet”. The movie is called Raging Bullshit and the scene goes like this.

Minister: But you can’t take away our …

Pravin: Shut it, you fat fuck. Either you all agree or I resign and expose you for the profligate pack of rapacious narcissists that you are.

Pravin gave the cops a big splodge of wonga, most of which will go on boxes of Nescafe’s instant cappuccino. Don’t scoff. Coffee is an essential tool in the fight against crime. Without it, the police would never be able to stay awake beyond 11am.

A paltry R444-million is to be spent on increasing visible policing. I thought it would cost a lot more to bribe officers to risk their lives walking around outside their cosy police stations.

Pravin also called on the labour movement to come to the party in stabilising the investment climate. This can only create confusion among the comrades.

“Hey! The finance minister wants us to come to his party.”

“Free beer?”

“Don’t know. Must be. He said nothing about bring your own.”

Pravin said no new money would be given to South African Airways while the company’s turnaround strategy was being evaluated. If I wanted SAA to stop losing money, my strategy would have all the planes turn around and never leave the ground again.

And, in a noble nod to nationalism, Pravin gave the defence ministry an extra R150-million so that more of our troops could go off to central Africa and risk their lives for no good reason whatsoever.

I have the solution to our government’s financial woes. Print more money. You can thank me later, Pravin.