25 February 2007
I’m trying to get worked up about the ANC’s controversial Progressive Business Forum.
According to newspaper reports the ANC promises to set up a meeting with a Cabinet minister or a senior government official in exchange for money for the ANC’s coffers.
It’s not clear what is discussed at those meetings but I imagine a few hints are dropped about how difficult it is to get by on a Cabinet minister’s salary and how nice it would be to own some free shares in a successful company — or buy a shiny new car at a special price.
So what’s all the fuss about then? We know from long and bitter experience that the ANC favours shady businessmen. When Imperial boss Bill Lynch won an international award last year there wasn’t a murmur of congratulation from senior politicians in the press (or if there was it was in very small print).
Compare that with the nauseating adulation heaped on the late Brett Kebble.
The ANC won’t even discipline dishonest politicians within Parliament and with good reason; if it did there would be very few politicians left. So all those who fiddled their travel expenses keep their jobs and are free to cast about for the next scam knowing that there is no chance they will ever be punished.
Over the past few years the ANC has effectively become the largest organised crime syndicate in the country. Which is why the Mafiosi tactic of calling in money for favours should come as no surprise.
Call it protection money, influence peddling, bribery or just a donation ; it all amounts to the same thing. That’s the way business is done these days and if you don’t like it then emigrate.
I was at a high-profile function recently where the guest speaker was Presidential Rottweiler Essop Pahad.
After he finished speaking, the MC for the evening, Ursula Stapelfeldt, thanked the minister for his ‘‘meaningless” speech which was cause for much mirth around the room.
We tried to work out whether Stapelfeldt had made a mistake but decided she had probably listened carefully to the minister and just said what all of us were already thinking. It was a lot of twaddle and it’s frightening to think that such intellectual featherweights are free to roam the planet representing South Africa.
Bearing that in mind, what would you really be getting for your money if you applied for platinum membership of the Progressive Business Forum?
The general feeling among the thinking classes is that there are only about five Cabinet ministers who know what they’re doing.
The rest enjoy security of tenure thanks to President Thabo Mbeki’s curious policy of refusing to sack the no-hopers. So, for example, you would really need to consider the investment carefully if you wanted to set up a meeting with the Health minister.
Even if you enjoy what could be diplomatically termed “a full and frank discussion”, is there any guarantee that the minister concerned will remember who you are when you fax your proposal for a new football stadium through?
Remember that this is primarily a money-making venture and 10 minutes after you left another sucker would have been wheeled in for an exclusive one-on-one.
So I’m afraid I can’t get at all worked up about the Progressive Business Forum. It’s just further confirmation that the ANC has sold its soul and sunk deeper into the mire of avarice but at least they’re no longer being secretive about it.