We the people are in deep trouble and our billionaire President and his Electricity Minister can’t fix it

We the people are in deep trouble and our billionaire President  and his Electricity Minister can’t fix it
Cyril Ramaphosa at a big game auction on April 14, 2012 in Rustenburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Cornel van Heerden)

Cyril Ramaphosa’s solution to his overly bloated, inept Cabinet was to surround himself with worshippers who no doubt praise this Emperor President for his beautiful billionaire’s clothes, Ankole cattle, buffalo and friends in high places.

Dear DM168 readers, 

Dinner table discussions with Gen Z and Gen Alpha youth, of which my sons are members, are very illuminating affairs.

Last night, I listened as they spoke animatedly about why, despite the fact that there is a high probability of super intelligent sentient life forms on many rocks somewhere in the vast expanse of our universe, they choose not to visit us.

“We still have racism, we have wars, our politicians don’t care about people, they are greedy and only care about themselves, our planet is being polluted and nature is being destroyed by greedy businesses. Why would any intelligent being want to come here?”

The children are right. We watch them glued to phones and online games, but they are graphically exposed to our increasingly backward evolution as a species.

What they see in the Tik-Tok, YouTube world is how we humans have traded the ethical and moral foundations of religion, animist or humanist philosophy for artifice and show.

We have eschewed the deeply humbling and peace building ideas of “love your neighbour as yourself”, karma, doing good deeds or ubuntu for the narcissistic display of what and who we possess on endless selfies, Insta Stories and posts. To be is to have. Own. Buy. Tell. Share. Click. And sell.

This crazy culture of consumerism and amassing of wealth at all cost is what the political elite and their rich business friends have bought into lock, stock and barrel. It’s what underpins our downfall from a country that had so much going for it in 1994 to the wreck we have become.

It’s evident in the cocky driver weaving recklessly at breakneck speed through a traffic jam, flipping the bird at all and sundry, not giving a damn about pedestrians or children crossing his path.

It’s in the rude Karen screaming at a waitress because she didn’t get exactly what she wanted.

It’s in the oncologist charging hundreds of thousands for experimental cancer treatment that eventually poisons a patient.

It’s in the obstetrician forcing pregnant women to have caesarian sections because natural births take time and you can earn more from many caesarian sections in a day.

It’s in the Nehawu workers who, in their demand for more wages, trashed hospitals, whipped nurses who wanted to work and did not bother one bit if patients they were meant to care for were starving and dying in hospital corridors.

It’s in the absolute tone deafness of our President and the political elite in our governing party, and the musical chairs coalition smashing and bashing opposition.

The ego, individual desires and ambitions of this lot come before us, the people they are meant to serve first and foremost.

And we the people are in deep, deep trouble. We are probably even more racially polarised than we were during the dying days of apartheid. The tension between haves and have-nots is reaching boiling point.

There is violence at our hospitals, on university campuses, it spews onto the streets and into neighbourhoods. So many are deprived of basic needs like food. So many unemployed. Students left out of opportunities are taking their frustrations out on the administrations, not the government.

Is this what Nietzsche was alluding to when he said “God is dead”. And what British singer Sting followed up with when he sang “An actor plays his part”. Is this what we have before us? The triumph of self-realisation, ego and aggrandisement over compassion, care, community and the greater good? The kind of selfish individualism that leads to social implosion?

On Monday night, our President, who is safely protected from the shouts and screams of the people, announced at last, after months of deliberation and consultation as is his manner, that he is reshuffling his Cabinet. By all accounts, he looked as bored by this non-event as the rest of us.

His solution to his overly bloated, inept Cabinet was to surround himself with worshippers who no doubt praise this Emperor President for his beautiful billionaire’s clothes, Ankole cattle, buffalo, friends in high places, vision and wisdom while the rest of us can see that he is definitely, totally kaalgat, bereft of any ideas or most importantly, bereft of action to fix what’s broken.

His solution to our most pressing problem of powerlessness was the appointment of his close aide, the former mayor of Tshwane, Sputla Kgosientsho Ramokgopa as minister of electricity.

My colleague Ray Mahlaka tried to speak to the President’s chosen Mr Fixit, who is tasked with fixing our energy crisis, but he was let down by a no-show and a phone that was switched off.

The same Mr Fixit, when he was mayor of Tshwane, was not very kind to journalist colleagues when they started writing critically about what turned out to be a very dodgy prepaid electricity meter deal with a company called PEU under his watch.

Acting Pretoria News editor Kennedy Mudzuli, who was a metro reporter when the PEU story broke, wrote in 2017 how Ramokgopa lashed out at reporters and editors who questioned him even when the North Gauteng High Court found the deal to be unconstitutional.

Mudzuli wrote: “Bear in mind that prior to PEU – ranked among the greatest financial disasters to hit a post-apartheid South African local government – Ramokgopa was already on the ropes, and tended to lash at anyone he believed was overly critical of his administration. Our editor  (the late Val Bojes) had experienced it, and so had I as the metro reporter at the time.”

There you go. A sign of a highly qualified ego in overdrive, someone who does not take kindly to criticism. Fortunately, good journalists have many ways of digging for the information they need so Ray has a front-page story that will probably tell you more about the electricity minister than an interview with him would do.

Ray and our Tshwane reporter, Peter Mothiba, did their analyses through research and interviews with a range of people in business, the Presidency, City of Tshwane councillors and community members.

Go get a copy of this week’s DM168 to read Ray’s and Peter’s stories so you can decide for yourself whether you think our President’s Mr Fixit can deliver on our country’s most pressing need since he relinquished the Tshwane mayoral chains.

Send your thoughts on this and other morbid symptoms of our social condition to [email protected]


Yours in defence of truth,


This story first appeared in our weekly DM168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, SPAR and Exclusive Books. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Nic Tsangarakis says:

    Always look forward to your weekly letter Heather. Good job.

  • William Kelly says:

    George Carlin said it best. He asked where these politicians come from?
    They come from among us. From we, the people. And if we are seeing their failures in them, maybe, just maybe it’s not them alone that suck…

  • Hermann Funk says:

    A President surrounded by yes-men and women will NEVER understand what “ordinary” South Africans have to go through.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    William, you hit the nail on the head. We The People vote the leaders in. So what is wrong? It has been a democratic choice. The People clearly have got it wrong. WHY?? Because they read what the media gives them! Which party has the best record of service delivery? Equally, which party has not got a good record of delivery? Best delivery party is the DA. Worst delivery party is the ANC. I think that most people will agree with that. BUT what does the media say about that? Not much. It describes the EFF as “the red berets”, which makes them into some sort of heroes. When there is a spat between the EFF and the DA the media will display a picture of Malema going crazy, not John Steenhuisen. Why? Because the pic is action! Same with the ANC. The only type of DA action that the media mention is like when Helen Zille sends a true tweet that the media wildly misconstrue and treat like she is a fool!! The DA is not the wild action movie, but a true documentary. When last did any media house mention that the DA is the most diverse party in SA? It is time that the MEDIA gave the DA credit for delivering.. Then we will get the government We The People deserve.

  • Sam van Coller says:

    Your sons could not have articulated it better. This individualistic, highly competitive world has separated us as human beings. My impression is that most South Africans are tired of division. We have broken South Africa down – how do we rebuild it? Sport – from the men’s national rugby team and the women’s national cricket team to organizations like Park Run – is giving us an example. There must be ways to bring neighbourhood communities together in a mutually supportive way. The reward from loving your neighbour is worth far more than the little effort required.

  • Karel Vlok says:

    Perhaps, just maybe, the Glorious Movement needs the disasters now enfolding (electricity, water, sewage, rail, harbours, mail, police, etc.) to syphon the funds to “compete” in next years election? They may even have engineered said disasters.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    By the way, one does not write “gives a damn” to mean that someone does not really care or is not interested, one writes “does NOT give a damn” to indicate a lack of care or interest. This can be confirmed by looking the phrase up in either The Webster’s Dictionary or The Concise Oxford Dictionary. The phrase is ALWAYS used in the negative sense.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Meantime, back at the ranch…. Great article Heather.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    Agreed. Heather please take note!

  • Sam Shu says:

    As they say, “Nailed it”!!! We (the wealthier, most of the DM readers) have all bought into this model of consumption to sate the ego but are nonetheless unhappy while our fellow South Africans and millions across the globe scratch at the droppings from our table and suffocate in the air that we have created to feed our ego.

    We all need to remember “do unto others….”

  • Paul Caiger says:

    As far as Cyril I’m-a-poser is concerned, the well known lines from that country and western song come to mind :- “Everyone considered him the coward of the country.” And he is.
    As Peter Hain’s said , don’t moan , act . Nelson Mandela stated that non violent protest would never change the apartheid regime , so the armed struggle began. Following their lead , I suggest an anti-ANC sabotage operation be started , beginning with the media ( Including the SABC- haha) , hacking the Ntuli House computers and destroying all the ANC records ( if there are any) , disrupting ANC offices and their election campaigns ( if they can even organize one) , opposing them at every turn by protests, disrupting their meetings and hacking their bank accounts. Also a few intimidating visits to the billionaire houses where these corrupt SANC politicians live is recommended. Those criminals who want to steal and destroy are are welcome in these areas. Don’t worry about being caught, as the police don’t function and the courts can’t get to hear any cases as they are too busy prosecuting ANC politicians. I think Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko would be in favour of such tactics. The ANC must fall. Aluta Continua !

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