Since the 103rd birthday celebration of the ANC on 10th January, it seems fashionable to exorcise the stadium, the hall and the room of the racist, sexist, counter-revolutionary ghosts of the past. So let me start here by saying to the ghost of Jan van Riebeeck; If you want to keep your place on the Foreshore, or be moved to the parking area of the Steve Hofmeyr Mall in Durbanville–East, be kind to us all today and go. We know what you did. What we are doing here is none of your business. By EVITA BEZUIDENHOUT.
This is the full text of Tannie Evita’s report to the Press Club on Tuesday 10 February 2015
In the same breath let me ask the following spirits of segregation also to leave: the ghosts of Lord Charles Somerset, Cecil John Rhodes, Jan Smuts, President Paul Kruger, DF Malan, JG Strydom, HF Verwoerd, BJ Vorster and PW Botha. FW de Klerk is not here, because he and his wife Elita are driving up and down his Boulevard on the Foreshore. Nelson Mandela sent apologies; the financial reports at the ANC office in Heaven need his full attention. Too much has been spent on the fire pool for Mother Theresa so she can practise walking on water.
My grandchildren said: Gogo, start with something funny. It’s so easy to laugh at our news today. The ANC paying for Jackie Selebi’s funeral. Maggies, where were they when he needed them? And of course, the vision of the EFF in two days time, going to the opening of Parliament naked. At least there will be one political party there totally transparent. My son de Kock wonders how the Speaker of Parliament will discipline those unfamiliar Honourable Members who, no doubt, will rise to the occasion.
Watch: Song For Tomorrow – Evita Bezuidenhout, Featuring Zolani Mahola, Karen Zoid & Hemelbesem
Let me come to the Luthuli Housekeeping report.
Since 1996, these reports have been under embargo in the Secretary-General’s Office. It is even whispered that they had indeed been declared a National Key Point. But the ANC prides itself on its transparency. Even though the party is now 103 years old, a bit blind, nearly deaf, half paralysed and with a chronic loss of memory, the ANC is now so transparent that no one knows what is going on.
This is a very suspicious occasion and I thank Comrade Gwede Mantashe for allowing me to take on this grave and heavy responsibility of telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing. As you all know, members of the ANC are not encouraged to communicate with the newspapers, the social media, television, radio or the voters. But, I am here today not as a member of the ruling party, but in my personal capacity as grandmother and citizen.
Why am I a member of the ANC?
‘Ja, Tannie Evita is nou ‘n lid van die ANC.’ People cannot believe it! How come you of all people are a member of the ANC? they ask. It’s like seeing Angela Merkel as a Greek bank manager! It’s very simple. Choice. For those of you who didn’t read yesterday’s New Age with that charming interview with me and my three black grandchildren … nou sit julle hier witgeskrik? My daughter Billie-Jeanne married the son of the President of my former black homeland of Bapetikosweti: she married Leroy Makoeloeli and now I have three born-free grandchildren – not white, not black, but Barack Obama Beige. They have no interest whatsoever in the Struggle of the past, because they know their struggle in the future will be more challenging.
Yes, the struggle of tomorrow. There is no historical blueprint to lead us where we are going. The world is in freefall. Fasten your seatbelts because there is no seat. And yet my grandchildren believe the good story that democracy will make their dreams come true. “Gogo? What will you do to protect democracy, so that when we need to vote freely and fairly one day, it will be there in full working condition?
It was obvious: go to where the power resides. Join the ANC. Very easy in spite of my misgivings as a mature white female Afrikaner. So simple: hand over the cash and you’re in!
My Life in Power
My life has always been in Parliament. My husband Dr J J de V Bezuidenhout – known to many as Oom Hasie – was the National Party MP for Laagerfontein. He also eventually had two portfolios in the cabinet of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd’s Government: Minister of Black Housing and Minister of Water Affairs. Hasie combined his two portfolios by building a black township in a dam.
Then power was firmly entrenched in the white Parliament. That ended on 2nd February 1990 when an unlikely cadre of the National Party opened a forbidden door and allowed the sunshine of democracy to flood into our lives. 25 years ago. Today Parliament has become either a parking garage for the DA, or an unruly playground for the EFF kindergarten. Power has moved north to Luthuli House. So that’s where I am.
Being In Luthuli House
Eskom has opened the floodgates of accusation. Some of them are valid, but it is very unfair to say the ANC has built no power stations since taking office 20 years ago. They have. It is called Luthuli House. I’ve spent over a year there, quietly doing what the Party demands of a white cadre: check toilet paper in all the washrooms, avoid any contact with the media and go into the kitchen to cook a nice daily three course meal for the comrades. Boer maak ‘n plan.
Many things have surprised me … no, many things have not surprised me. ANC still stands for A Nice Cheque. The front pages of daily newspapers still carry the latest highly placed corrupt comrades making off with millions, lying about needed qualifications of excellence, branding criticism as racist and Afrophobic – and getting away with it all. Sometimes the African National Congress really reminds me of the Afrikaanse Nasionale Kongres. So does history repeat itself and take tragedy and turn it into farce? No, history need not repeat itself; it just has to rhyme – from apartheid to tripartite, from amandla to Nkandla.
Which brings me to what is foremost in the minds of many and follows the hashtags of even more. Nkandla and Pay-back-the-money. We can solve that in an hour. Let all the comrades, whom since 2009 President Jacob Zuma has made millionaires, each donate just R100,000. That R246 million rand debt plus interest will be cleared in a day. Or just SMS the Guptas.
Yes, R246 million rand – or as the financial agency, Schindler’s and List, would refer to it as 19,000 Euros – it is a hefty sum of money to spend on the renovations of a holiday home, but believe me compared to the money we in the previously-advantaged regime spent on ourselves, it is a drop in the bucket-system of comparison. Today we call it corruption; then we called it policy.
Is it the Zulu Versailles? The rebooting of Shaka’s Ungungungluvu? No, it is a cluster of smallish rondawels that look like a retirement village outside Hermanus. Spending any money on security there is pointless because there is nothing to steal. But each rondawel hides a lift shaft that goes down 6 floors. For reasons as yet not clear, each of our first ladies – A, B, C and D – has her own underground separate floor with the President’s Master bedroom in the centre, like a Robben Island in a shark-infested Table Bay. Tunnels lead into that National Key Point from the floors of each wife.
Looking at the homestead from the outside makes it even more difficult to pinpoint where all the money has gone. Yes, there is a fire pool, but then you see those everywhere when you fly over Gauteng. Again they could be potholes. Yes, there are two cattle kraals. Why two? Cattle are the barter capital for any Zulu chief worth his rare and protected skins. President Zuma boasts the biggest herd of Nguni, in addition to the cluster of very thin milk cows that were recently rescued from Thandi Modise’s farm. The one kraal to the north is for the morning sun; the other in the south for the afternoon glow. There is a tunnel that joins the two and so the cattle don’t befoul the North Korean paving in the Amphitheatre. Or frighten the legion of women who queue up at the visitor’s centre and control room to audition for the part of Wife Number E, F and G.
I’m sorry to confirm that due to sloppy design and careless construction, the cattle tunnels got mixed up with the concubine tunnels, and as a result a cow and a sheep has ended up in the Master Bedroom. I am not in a position to add speculation as to what happened then. Did the President eat them or marry them! My granddaughter added that and said that it might be funny.
I would like to use this opportunity to state most categorically that I have had no part in any of the developments around Nkandla and/or the spending of 246 million rand of taxpayer’s money on a private resident of a servant of the people. I have only had nice curtains made for Ma Khumalo’s tuck shop. It faces the morning sun and by noon all her chocolates are down to a soggy melt. The curtains protect them. Now it is being whispered that I spent the R246 million rand on the curtains. They want me to pay back the money! The Luthuli House legal team have told me to say: no comment.
Pay Back Time
Pay back the money! It’s not just the money spent on a cluster of rondawels in the bundus of KZN. It’s not just the huge bonuses that have been lavished on mediocre minds for not asking pointed questions. It’s not just the haemorrhaging of public funds through the sieves of incompetence. Pay back the money also means it is time for South Africans to pay back what South Africa has invested in them, in us. The education we enjoyed as privileged citizens. The experiences of life we can share after many decades of relatively happy existence. The focus that we can give to the problems that face us. Problems not always unfamiliar. Problems not always insolvable.
Nelson Mandela gave us all a chance to make our dreams come true. Who ever thought we whites would get away with apartheid? Nothing happened to us. No Nuremburg Trials. None of us was hung like Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. And even now with the parole of Eugene de Kock, we do not release him in Soweto on a Saturday afternoon! In fact, on 11 February 1990, a faceless man so feared by many as the Osama Bin Laden of that time, came out of the darkness and gave us all light. And since then Eskom has collapsed. Too much competition.
We are going into the 21st year of a democracy that no one ever thought would happen. It did happen. It is happening and it will carry on happening, because it is a healthy democracy with speed wobbles that are part of the rollercoaster of human rights. Every one’s fingerprints are on the silver chalice of freedom. Every citizen has a right to an opinion. Now that the majority of the citizens are getting younger every day, they no longer have the sentiment of compassion, or the good manners of their parents and grandparents. No longer does any South African who is not white have to be grateful to any South African who is. Thank you, Baas, even though you are no longer Baas, I am still Klaas. But I am Doctor Doctor Doctor Professor Klaas. I don’t have a degree, but I am the CEO of the company because I am a nie-blanke! When will we whites stop being white? When will we just allow ourselves to be South Africans who are not people of colour?
If xenophobia is spelt with an X, should Zumaphobia be spelt with a Z? On 2nd February 1990 the President of South Africa made a speech in Parliament that changed the lives of millions of South Africans. Today FW de Klerk still invites complex reactions to his past actions and yet there is one irrefutable fact: he opened that door. Only he had the key and he used that key and today is humbly grateful for a Boulevard. If he hadn’t used that key, today he’d be an Airport!
In 48 hours the President of South Africa will make a State of the Nation address to a nation in a state. Will he be allowed to speak, or will the freedom of speech for others stop his address? What will his speech tell us? Business as usual? Focus on corruption as the prime evil and then blame apartheid? Can we still after twenty years of democracy scapegoat a bad system that officially ended in 1994? We can still accuse it of a lot of things, and yet to keep blaming it for incompetence, carelessness and ineptitude would be, like in the 1960s, blaming Adolf Hitler for the miniskirt! Hypocrisy! And yet, often hypocrisy today is still the Vaseline of political intercourse.
Corruption is the cancer of our society. Is it terminal? Can we still try and cure it through the chemotherapy of transparency and independent justice? And when we agree to confront it with treatment, are we prepared to lose our hair. Pay back in order to get back?
It is fashionable to accuse a leader who does not show leadership. I will say nothing. I may not. I should not, even though I could. I went to see the Secretary-General of the ANC last week for advice. Gwede Mantashe is always in his office. In fact, Gwede never leaves Luthuli House because he knows they’ll never let him back in again. I said: Gwede? What do I say about the President?
He said: Say no comment. I said: But I must say something. Silence is becoming an admission of, if not guilt, then guilt by association. So Gwede said: Expose the lies and the gossips that are damaging the dignity of the Presidency. And so I said, yes, I will do that.
I like President Zuma. He always treats me with great respect. Well, I’ve never been alone in the lift with him, so I don’t know what happens there, but he still allows me to call him by his Zulu clan name: Innocent. Members of the media can refer to the unexpurgated 2014 Luthuli Housekeeping Report and turn to page 978, Paragraph 4.2.6 (h) for the full text of what I will now briefly touch on.
They say Jacob Zuma said to have a shower after unprotected sex. That is not true. He did not say it. He did it.
Those in opposition have SMS’d that he is a thief, but he did not steal anything. It was given to him.
Some pundits say he is corrupt. But as corruption is a Western thing, how can he be that?
Former youth leaders have said he is a liar, but that is only from those racists who don’t believe the truth.
Women say that he is sexist, but men know that he is because he has sex more often than they do. Much much more.
They whisper he is homophobic and yet he allows Robert Mugabe to kiss him on the lips and some say he kisses back.
They accuse Jacob Zuma of being a polygamist. Those who do are just jealous that he marries all his girlfriends, while they have to lie to their wives about theirs.
Of course the media keeps repeating that the President said the ANC will rule till Jesus Christ comes back. The media gets it wrong each time. The ANC will rule forever, because Jesus Christ will not come back. We in the ANC will not give him a visa.
The Deafening Silence
There is no use in doing what the EFF Teletubbies are doing: accusing the ANC that created them. Once they swore to kill for Zuma; now they swear to kill Zuma! Any rebellious teenager without a new big car does the same to his father. No one can be the pot and call the kettle black, because most pots are now silver, while the kettles are pink and green and blue. I hope they now realize that democracy is not supposed to kill, only to irritate.
How many people in Luthuli House, cadres in the ANC, will still keep their silence? Even though they hate what is happening to a once-great liberation movement in the clutches of third-rate comrades with fourth-rate ideas. And as a result we think they are all on the gravy train together. Gravy dripping from their mouths, staining their latest Gupta fashions. Not so simple, comrades. Like in the old days of National Party rule, where all the Broeders would crowd round a Vorster and a Botha and nod and nod and nod with their fingers crossed, today many comrades in the NEC who will never say it loudly – remember how they all stood round Thabo Mbeki and never corrected his misspoken suggestion about Aids? – many comrades have said to me: MaEvita! Go and tell the world. Maybe someone upstairs will hear. We want the money to go where it was intended.
Pay back the money, so that education will have more. Then Government can say to each parent: if your child passes Grade 12, we will refund you all the money you spent on his/her education, so that your child can use that money to study further. When he/she qualifies there, the Government can refund all the study costs so that this educated child can start a business and a career. Why? Because the money has been returned! (If your child passes Grade 12 with not a 30% but a 60% pass, Government can give him/her a car! They call it bribery. Yes. It works!
Pay back the money and let us give substantial salary increases to the police, all the teachers and every nurse. Without them as the foundation to our democracy, we cannot survive. And we can do it, because the money has been paid back!
Pay back the money so we can put orphanages and crèches into old age homes: where old people can become the grandparents to the lonely children who have never had a family. And it can happen because the money is now there!
Pay back the money so that VAT can be taken off books! How can we share the stories of our survival and reconciliation if we keep taxing the imagination of the children? Double the VAT on lottery tickets! No one will even notice.
Keep e-tolls, but only for 4X4s. Yes, and put a fat tax on all Humvees. The creators of potholes and road works are not always a lazy municipality. It is the procession of huge SUV’s – more 4X4’s than even the Taliban flaunt – driven by small anorexic white mothers chatting on their Blackberries.
Let every nouveau-noir millionaire adopt a school or a hospital and be responsible for the upkeep thereof. For them there will be a tax rebate and those who do not embrace this suggestion will go up a tax bracket.
The vote is sacred; the vote is secret. And yet I am still haunted by a young voter who stood up and spat out: We voted for freedom; all we got was democracy. There will be money to overhaul the alphabets of democracy. Add to the election ballot under all the party candidates: I do not agree with any of the above choices. That should be counted as a vote, not rejected as a spoilt paper. And who knows, remembering how many died for the right to practise their political choices, it should be illegal to abstain from voting. Do it three times, you lose your right to vote forever!
Pay back the money so that the public can protect the Public Protector, because without the Public Protector the public will have no protection against those who refuse to pay back the money!
Pay back the money so that prejudice never again becomes policy and hatred never again is tolerated.
The Good Story
But besides all the news that now breaks in the palm of our hands, these shocking realities so familiar to us all, I meet so many good people in Luthuli House, good cadres in the ANC doing their jobs with commitment and excellence. You do not find them on the front pages because they don’t steal; they’re too busy working for their salaries! I now realize – which too many of us have not – that there are more good people than bad ones in various pyramids of power: in the cabinet, the government, the opposition, the municipalities, NGOs and provincial regimes. Good citizens working against all the odds – and some of them are very odd! – to keep our country relatively balanced. Otherwise we would today have been another Syria, another Libya, another Ukraine, another Zimbabwe. And we are not. We are a healthy democracy that shows all the expected flaws of confusion.
So let us loudly say: good people in politics? You know who you are. We will find out where you are. We will support you and encourage you. You will inspire us to work harder and make the future a good story for all South Africans. Carry on in spite of the noise at the top. Your strong foundations of commitment and care will help the weak structures of government survive until the people rethink their choices. Yes, in a healthy democracy, the people must lead and the government will follow.
During the last month, #CommitYourselfie has been the hashtag to my onslaught against corruption and pessimism and thousands of South Africans have taken part, sending their selfies and what they want for the future South Africa. We have an anthem. We have a voice. Let the leaders of our land in the National Assembly on 12th February just pause for a moment amid the catcalls and shouts, amid the insults and accusations – let them stop and just listen. There is a noise outside in the street. In the roads. In the parks and on the beaches. In the schools and the churches. In the malls and on the mountains. In the cities. In the townships. In the hamlets and in the huts. The people of South Africa are saying, very nicely, enough is enough. Please. People? Don’t wait for the guillotine.
The Winde Up
And finally, a footnote to the Gurus of Finance, BEE Bosses of Business, Captains of Corporations and Commanders of Companies. While government is the orange on the aerial of power, you are the vehicles of progress. My son de Kock has suggested that maybe here today, I am the fur on your steering wheel. A slippery steering wheel can lead to quick and fatal disasters. A bit of fur might keep us on the straight and narrow. I am now well beyond the official retirement age. And why am I not retired? Because I don’t want to be retired. While I can contribute something no matter how small, no matter how politically irrelevant, I will! And I will kill with kindness for my right to do so.
I am sick of the negative. I am tired of the know-alls and well-meaners who never stop whining and moaning. I am sick of intelligent people looking the other way and allowing decay to become the perfume of the day. I am sick of those lazy losers who use racism as a means to an end. I am sick of being a nervous tourist in my own country. I am not white, female, Afrikaans, icon or aikona, octogenarian, designer-democrat, right-wing, conservative, or marginalized. I am a South African. Ladies and gentlemen, dames en here, meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Monsieur: je suis Evita.DM
(Evita Bezuidenhout will be part of the satirical cluster in AN AUDIENCE WITH PIETER-DIRK EISH! at Cape Town’s Theatre on the Bay from 18 February to 14 March, and at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre Johannesburg from 17 March to 12 April.)