MOEGOE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Carl Niehaus; Runners-up: Iqbal Survé, Piet Rampedi & Dr Susan Vosloo
The self-serving Carl Niehaus, with his faulty moral compass, is like a fluffy poodle with a toothless snarl.
In what one might call his declining years, the former freedom fighter has acquired the accoutrements of a senior figure in the liberation movement: he has the grey hair to say seniority, he has the beard to say wisdom, and he has the big black-framed spectacles to say Oliver Tambo.
Except it isn’t working. Nobody who isn’t a devotee of those great leaders Jacob Zuma and Ace Magashule or a member of the now disbanded Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) believes a word he says. Anyone who remembers how Niehaus defrauded his friends and colleagues while spouting invented stories about repeated parental deaths is unlikely to take him for a truth-teller.
Yet he goes on, first supporting Magashule even as he was suspended from the ANC because he was on trial for corruption, then supporting Zuma in his incredibly long quest to avoid answering anything in court.
At least Niehaus hasn’t lost his ability to spew forth great chunks of quasi-Marxist rhetoric about freeing the oppressed of South Africa – basically, the line of the South African Communist Party circa 1968, not at all updated for a new South Africa that overcame apartheid but still struggles with the legacy of a pernicious system. For Niehaus, it’s all back to a future that never came to be.
What Niehaus’s fluency in this rhetoric demonstrates, however, is that you can keep trundling out all that stuff in service of so-called Radical Economic Transformation without showing, in any way whatsoever, how the Zumas and Magashules of the world (let alone the MKMVA gunslingers) did anything at all to actually drive economic transformation. Unless by that you mean the enrichment of a few high-ups and an immigrant family from Uttar Pradesh, as well as the undermining of institutions that help to support democratic ideals.
Most people see through this, of course. Whenever Niehaus or any of his camouflaged cronies witter on about “Radical Economic Transformation”, what the rest of us hear is “Corruption and State Capture”. Niehaus, dressed in his MK twinset, just looks like an actor pretending to be a guerrilla. He gets all morally outraged and we all know that his moral compass has a faulty needle that points only to whatever self-serving action seems most useful at that moment.
Okay, Niehaus did lay charges against the ANC, the party of which he was once a loyal member, when it found itself unable to pay its staff. That may be one way to cause a lot of trouble for the party he loves so much, but which in fact fired Niehaus a little while ago. But he’s happy to continue to pretend he’s an ANC employee, just as he continues to pretend MKMVA is actually an organisation of real former soldiers. Niehaus’s legal action is obviously aimed largely at President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Top Six (Top Five? – we exclude Magashule) of the ANC, surely because Ramaphosa is trying to crack down on all the corrupt politicians and civil servants who have brought SA to its knees by means of their thefts and redirections of public monies into their own pockets.
Meanwhile, Niehaus is suing Minister of Transport and ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula for saying he, Niehaus, is a thug. Now Mbalula is quite capable of saying the most inappropriate things, but in this case he’s right to laugh off the Niehaus assault as though Niehaus were no more than a fluffy poodle given to a toothless snarl. He can’t be sued for damaging the reputation and dignity of a man who has utterly lost his good reputation, said Mbalula.
And yet, undaunted, there is Carl, bravely going to court to support Bathabile Dlamini, Women’s League leader and former minister of social development, in her perjury trial. It’s trumped up, said Niehaus, Trumpishly. Naturally, he appears to have no problems with perjury – as you’d expect from someone whose nom de guerre should be He Who Talks a Lot of Sh*t in Service of the Lying, Cheating, Thieving Bastards Who Don’t Actually Care at All about Ordinary South Africans, Let Alone the Poorest of the Poor.
We’re hoping Zuma et al haven’t spent all that money they got from the Guptas, or poor old Niehaus is doing a lot of hard work and not getting paid for it. Mind you, he could probably think up some new scam to squeeze a few pennies from sympathisers. Come on, Ace – dig into those deep pockets of yours. Comrade Carl’s mother died … again. DM168
FIRST RUNNERS-UP: IQBAL SURVÉ AND PIET RAMPEDI
In case you’d lost track of just how bonkers Iqbal Survé, the owner of Independent Media and recipient of a bunch of development monies and Chinese state funds, is, he did his best to fill in the blanks. But he could not have done it without Piet Rampedi, editor of one of his titles, the Pretoria News.
Rampedi cooked up an “exclusive” front-page story about the “decuplets” – a world record in births, or, you could say, a world record in stories with no basis in truth.
No one could work out what was really happening. Survé instituted an inquiry into the story and the circumstances, as a real media owner would do, but, when the inquiry’s conclusions were that the decuplets story was fake news, he doubled down – not only proclaiming its truth, but adding a conspiracy about human trafficking.
Survé promised that a series of new stories in his papers (was it a 10-part series?) would soon reveal all – but we’re still waiting. He has been accused of various forms of crookery, but it seems that all he can do to refute such accusations is to commission another fact-free story by another minion to run in a paper he owns. (Independent? We roll on the floor laughing.)
Rampedi, a key author of the “rogue unit” fake news published by the Sunday Times (and later retracted by the paper), doesn’t seem to know the difference between truth and lies anyway. DM168
SECOND RUNNER-UP: DR SUSAN VOSLOO
In August this year, Dr Susan Vosloo went on video to claim that the vaccines were going to be worse for us than the disease of Covid-19.
She’s a cardiologist by trade, but suddenly she was an epidemiologist, a geneticist, a statistician – and a politician. The virus was concocted by evil forces so that Big Pharma could profit, she said.
“The vaccine was not brought in for Covid but Covid was brought in for the vaccine” – a favourite talking point of the conspiracy theorists.
There was “no interest whatsoever in treating patients and relieving suffering and preventing death”, she claimed – which must have been news to the hard-pressed healthcare workers on the front line trying to save lives all over SA.
She weighed in against restrictions such as travel bans, as though they were eternal: “Nobody travels, nobody moves freely.” Vosloo obviously hadn’t noted the way different travel bans were lifted at different times, which indicates she wasn’t really paying attention to reality.
“The data that we considered a year ago as [being] conspiracies are really becoming reality,” she claimed, and you’ve got to wonder which conspiracy she’s talking about: did a lot of people not die? Perhaps she didn’t look at the official figures, or the numbers on excess deaths. She was “encouraged” by the high level of vaccine hesitancy and denial. Funny that 40% of South Africans have now been vaccinated, but the death stats haven’t risen much. Vosloo must’ve done her medical studies at Siener van Rensburg University. DM168
DAILY MAVERICK PERSONS OF THE YEAR
Every year, Daily Maverick puts its mind to the question of who we should recognise in our annual Persons of the Year categories.
In the past, these decisions have been made after a bare-knuckle editorial brawl, but this year, we decided to do things a little differently. We had the bare-knuckle editorial brawl, but simply to arrive at a shortlist of nominees in each category. Using a new reader engagement tool called Hearken, we asked our online readers to cast their votes on who they think deserves the final nod. We also gave readers the option to choose their own candidate in any category in case they thought we had neglected anyone more worthy. The results were both expected and surprising.
On the whole, readers agreed with our shortlisted candidates, with a few exceptions. We had not considered Greta Thunberg as a candidate for International Person of the Year, but so many readers nominated her that she earned enough mentions to be a runner-up in that category.
Many objected to us only focusing on singers for our Artist of the Year and objected to the predominance of foreign singers in the category. Quite a few readers were critical of us leaving out African women and female contenders in general.
The journalists at Daily Maverick were mentioned several times as nominees for different categories of People of the Year – ah, thanks for the love, guys, but this time around we wanted to cast our net outside our inner circle.
The more than 800 readers who voted totally exceeded our expectations, because this was the first time we have opened People of the Year to readers’ votes.
Below are the categories. Read about the winners and runners-up in various categories below.
- South African Person of the Year – a person who has had the broadest or most significant impact on the country as a whole.
- Africa Person of the Year – a person who has made an outstanding contribution on the African continent this year.
- International Person of the Year – a person who has had broad international impact or made an outstanding contribution this year.
- South African Villain of the Year – there was no shortage of suggestions in this self-explanatory category…
- International Villain of the Year – as above, but drawn from foreign fields.
- South African Businessperson of the Year – not necessarily the person who made the biggest profit, but someone whose influence went beyond the balance sheets.
- Community Champion of the Year – someone uplifting, defending and representing ordinary South Africans, often against all odds.
- South African Polluter of the Year – individuals and entities which have succeeded in further dirtying our environment this year.
- Our Burning Planet Heroes of the Year – the green warriors fighting for our planet’s survival.
- South African Youth Champion of the Year – young people working to improve the lot of other young people.
- Sportsperson of the Year – a sportsperson whose positive impact has been felt either on or off the field.
- Sports Team of the Year – a team that has stood out from the rest in 2021 either on or off the field.
- Artist of the Year – a hitmaker whose musical or social influence has towered above others.
- Moegoe of the Year – someone whose behaviour perhaps falls short of Villain of the Year, but who has in some way acted idiotically.
- Grinch of the Year – someone who qualifies as a spoilsport or killjoy. – Rebecca Davis/DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.
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