Business Maverick


After the Bell: Answering Dali Mpofu’s pertinent questions

After the Bell: Answering Dali Mpofu’s pertinent questions
Advocate Dali Mpofu during a break at the impeachment hearing of suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at Parliament. 01 March 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

In exchange for answering your questions, Advocate Dali Mpofu, I have a few for you.

On Monday, the day of the putative shutdown, South Africa’s most high-profile politician-cum-lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, asked the Twitterati two important questions:

“Dear White Fellow South Africans, THINK VERY CAREFULLY about these questions: 1. Is a safe future for you & your children guaranteed when other people are hungry, desperate & landless? 2. Do you REALLY hate Malema/EFF more than load shedding??” 

Very pertinent questions, as you would expect from one of SA’s most successful lawyers. I would like to answer him.

The answer to the first question is absolutely “no”. The answer to the second question is absolutely “yes”. I didn’t even have to THINK VERY CAREFULLY about these answers. They are, at least to me, very obvious.

The reason the answer to the first question is “no” is more or less self-explanatory. No society survives long term with extreme levels of inequality. It’s unfair, unreasonable and unjust. And it’s for this reason that though I grumble about South Africa’s high levels of tax, I support the government’s very intense redistribution efforts. The grumbling is not about that: it’s about wastage and corruption, and maladministration and cadre deployment, and all the other woes with which we are all too familiar.

SA’s support for the very poor is well developed compared with many countries in our middle-income category. Actually, that is a massive understatement. The support net has increased from about 3 million beneficiaries in 1995 to about 18 million now who currently receive state welfare grants, while a further 11 million get the state’s Covid-19 grant, now transformed into a general social relief grant. That is nearly half the population of the country.

SA spends about R200-billion a year on the social grant system, and a further R44-billion on the Social Relief of Distress grant, which is R350 a month. This is a lot of money for the government, and since it is spread so widely, individual payments are modest. But, you know, better that than providing for too small a group.

And, of course, the whole system is placing a huge strain on the tax system. I’m not raising that as a reason for it to be cut back or reduced. It’s just a fact. But what it does do is set limits on how much further it can go without bankrupting the country.

There are about 10 million registered taxpayers in SA, but I think only about 5.2 million actually qualify to pay Personal Income Tax, the largest of SA’s tax income categories. That number is increasing, but not at the same rate as the population as a whole. This is a recipe for a fiscal car crash, and you can see that in the gradual increase in SA’s debt-to-GDP ratio. Since 2008, the government’s debt has risen from about 26% of GDP to about 70%, an increase that is among the steepest in the world.

But the point is that it’s not as though the government is unaware of the need to assist poor South Africans; it’s extremely front-of-mind, as it should be. When you are providing some support for half the population, it’s hard to argue the problem is being ignored. As a proportion of GDP, SA’s cash transfers are three times larger than the average for the developing world.

As for the second question, the consequences of load shedding pale in significance to the consequences of the Venezuela-esque socialist system I suspect your party, the EFF, would like to implement. Venezuela went from being the fourth-richest country in the world on a per capita basis to being poorer than it was in 1920 after electing a series of Marxist governments. 

About 75% of the population now lives in poverty, they have participated in the largest mass emigration ever experienced in South America, and of course, experienced the hyperinflation and all the other joys that belligerent notionally Marxist governments impose. Going to school is now a luxury.

By the way, I notice one of your follow-up tweets is brought to us by Karl Marx: “Capitalism contains the seeds of its own eventual destruction.” It’s odd how revolutionaries are always predicting capitalism’s collapse in the future while Marxist systems actually collapse in the present.

In exchange for answering your questions, I have a few for you: Do you know what it feels like to have to meet payroll every month? Do you know what it feels like if you are running a small business and suddenly you have to lose a day’s trading because a political group wants to close down the country to protest about things everybody already knows are problems? Have you experienced that sinking feeling in your stomach when you know the tiny amount you make standing behind the counter of your little store every day is going to be crimped even further because that same political party, well represented in Parliament, wants to make some completely obvious points?

My guess is that you don’t really know how that feels because it doesn’t affect you. It doesn’t affect you because you earn tens of thousands of rands every day you appear in court, where you are effectively, and knowingly I suspect, subverting the legal system by presenting spurious legal matters in a transparent effort to prevent a former president from  facing corruption charges first brought more than a decade ago.

That is my guess, but, by all means, let us know. DM/BM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    The fact that Dali frames question one as racial rather than criminal in my view places him firmly in one of two camps:

    1. Moron
    2. Complicit

    My only question to Dali is “Which camp is it?”

    • David C says:

      Places him in the middle of the Venn diagram of the two camps. I’d add a 3rd called “Racist” and fourth called “Sociopath”, and he’d still be firmly in the middle.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      For completeness I should probably add that question 2 is so obtuse it is just funny – and surely skews my view towards “camp 1”

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    First of all, I agree with Tim’s point of view. Secondly and this is directed to the odious Mpofu – in typical EFF racist bullying – stop playing the race card, as is the go-to of your ilk, and give urgent and priority attention to your numerous and wayward brethren, whom you so blindly and disgracefully defend. The thieves, degenerates and scumbags who have stolen, raped and bankrupted this country blind. Just about no one seriously takes a word that you utter – just plain toxic hot air that you grandstand to your brain-dead audience.

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    I would agree with your answers , based on the following:
    1. Load shedding is directly attributable to decisions made by a BLACK led ANC government, which appears further to have adversely enforced the decision by pillaging the electricity provider?
    2. The hopes and ambitions or Malema are directed internally thereby ensuring he and his close companions are safe and comfortable, often at the expense of those he espouses to support and cosset.
    When have you seen the man dip his hand in his pocket thereby helping the poor and needy?

  • Rob Pizzi says:

    Completely agree Tim. I think Mr Mpofu should stick to legal matters and leave politics to the politicians. What am I saying to the thieves and liars that pass as politicians. We see right through you Dali. You are a racist through and through.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    I have difficulty in engaging with the questions. The word “Dear” when addressing Fellow White South Africans, had me rolling on the floor clutching my sides in mirth. Mpofu would, I suspect, happily drive all White South Africans off the nearest cliff, had he the chance. This inarticulate, ineffective so-called lawyer, who would be more appropriately employed in a circus, is a disgrace, not only to his profession, but his race. All he spews is hatred. There, I feel SO much better now. LOL. Not sure this will make the cut, but what the hell!

  • Andrew Donaldson says:

    An anagram of Dali Mpofu is Odium Flap. Just saying.

  • John Pocock says:

    If all the tax payer’s money misappropriated and st0len during the nine wasted years were to be returned to the fiscus and properly spent then there would be far fewer desperate, hungry and landless people. Instead Mpofu continues to defend, probably at taxpayers cost, the very people who are the authors of this misery and inequality.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      “probably at taxpayers cost” is misplaced …. it definitely is !! He would NOT take on a client who does not have access to it … or other corruptly stolen loot. His entire reason for existence and modus operandi is to acquire as much/many “peanuts” (as he calls it) as he can . He learnt it early in his career when on the SABC board.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    “Do you REALLY hate Malema/EFF more than load shedding??”

    I don’t hate Malema, but through his admiration for Chavez, Putin and other political gangsters I know exactly what SA would become should he ever come to power, something you, Mr Advocate, are too stupid to realise.

  • J C says:

    We give this buffoon too much airtime and as Rob Pizzi mentioned above, “we see right through you”.

  • Rob Rhodes-Houghton says:

    “… most successful lawyers”?

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    I would like to say to the disrespectful, rude, ill-mannered, arrogant and quite frankly incompetent Mpofu, why ask the question of whites ? You are wealthy, you have access to a lifestyle that’s massively better than probably 95% of South Africans but you have the audacity to ask that question of whites. There are many of us whites in South Africa that don’t live the lavish lifestyle you do. We just barely make ends meet, we struggle to pay our bills every month, we struggle to pay our children’s school fees, we struggle to pay for fuel and to put nutritious food on the table at mealtimes, so to ask whites these questions only displays your black selfishness and your black arrogance. Why don’t you and the other prosperous blacks answer that question ? While you are at it why don’t you explain why you wealthy blacks who supposedly feel so strongly about equality don’t redistribute the wealth you have as opposed to questioning the integrity and honesty of whites who don’t have the funds you do.

  • Kenneth Southey says:

    A very articulate and appropriate critique.

  • James Miller says:

    I wonder if the obsequious Mpofu is insinuating that SA under the EFF/Malema would result in the end of load shedding and a safe future? If so, he’s lost any tenuous grip he may have had on reality. But under that scenario I suspect he’d be safe, riding on Malema’s coat tails.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      The ‘illustrious’ Floyd Shivambu on ‘shutdown” day put it clearly that the EFF would invite Russia and China to become the providers of electricity in SA ! What he did not explain was at what ‘cost’ … as the Sri Lankans are discovering now – becoming a ‘province’ of their overlords. And we all thought the days of ‘subservience’ and ‘colonialism’ were past !

  • Penelope Meyer says:

    My answer would be no and no. The first no for the same reasons as stated above. The second no because it takes too much energy to hate. I don’t waste my energy. I find Malema and the EFF repellant and annoying, and am completely stymied as to why, given their cupidity, they still have a following. I find load shedding annoying but am not about to cause more harm to the economy to protest it. The obvious way out of load shedding is to stop the corruption, but like many obvious answers it is much, much easier said than done. All the EFF wants is to have their turn at the trough. And Dali, while we are at it, as a lawyer, I find you embarrassing and rude, but I don’t waste any emotion on you either.

    • Mark Gory Gory says:

      Brilliant and succinctly put Tim.
      While this caricature of a legal person gets paid millions for attempting to defend the indefensible, he could not hope to understand what “ordinary “ South Africans of every ilk live through while the anc destroys everything it touches. He has no motion of destroyed businesses, bankruptcy and general misery caused by the mindless greed of those in his rarified (putrified)
      No one wastes energy hating the malemas/mpofus of this world. As above, we see through you and despair for our beloved country while we pack up and look for somE place else to be. The unemployed staff we leave behind will just join the unemployment queue funded by shrinking numbers of taxpayers. Put your (ill gotten) moneys where that upsized mouth of yours is.

    • Neil Oberholzer says:

      Penelope, you are so spot on with your comments, and yes it is counter productive to give his remarks any more energy.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Q1: yes. AND there are more NotWhite Fellow South Africans than “whites” that feel the same. Barring one or two Scandinavian countries (filthy rotten not communists!) that also do not have equality , it does not exist and no mass uprising has secured it either. Take your pick from North Korea, through Cuba, Venezuela, Angola, China, Vietnam, etc, etc, etc. after an uprising there are only the politically powerful that are billionaires and 99% poverty and oppression. Advocate Mpofu SC (2 for 2000) should point us to his ideal country…

    Q2: I don’t really hate anybody excepting maybe child molesters, drug pushers, corrupt politicians. I am all for death penalty for those, constitution be damned. I don’t really care about EFF as they are irrelevant to me until Advocate Mpofu SC (2 for 2000) points me to how well they run any town, metro or province which they govern. Very short list of zero. There is no point in hating loadshedding. I deal with it as best as I can by becoming 90% central energy resilient so as not to burden my Fellow AllColor South Africans with my factory. Within 6 months of Advocate Mpofu SC (2 for 2000) threatened insurrection I will be 100% not a burden. Not in energy not in water. Just take my sewerage if you still have a functioning plant please.

    I know the money I am INVESTING is “peanuts” for Adv Mpofu SC (2 for 2000). Perhaps he can point us to what he has invested.

    • Johan Herholdt says:

      Thank you Tim. I was surprised to see “Zuma’s long-winded lawyer, Dali Mpofu” (DM’s words not mine) asking two brief questions. But, in his defence, I submit that he is only trying to live up to the definition of rhetoric (see the “Oxford Languages” dictionary): “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content”.
      Be that as it may, my answer to his questions:
      1. No (easy!) No. Which is why we need a working, well-managed infrastructure to enable a working, well-managed economy. If those in power find it difficult, I suggest that they take lessons from any (or all) of the well-managed, highly productive cartels operating in our DEAR South Africa. A growing (cartel-free) economy and fiscus that does not rely on loans should be our aim so we have the money to fix these very real problems (for ALL the children in our country).
      2. No (easy!) No. I find them equally annoying, and I think that both gets too much airtime and column-inches. I would rather see, hear and read how we are going to rid ourselves of both. I also find it equally annoying to have politicians (and government appointees) explain the pickle we are in without supplying a plan with deadlines and a report-back schedule. A government debt-to-GDP of 70% means we have no time to “dick around” (see Oxford Learner’s Dictionary – Advanced).

  • Anthea Robinson says:

    👏👏👏👏👏👏👏. So well put.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Lawyers usually like to ask questions they know the answer to.. in order to lure their victim into exposing the truth. What exactly did an clever person like him hope to find in the answers I wonder? Ah but these question were on Twitter. There the aim is to lash out not find out. So he wasn’t really asking us he was telling us what he thinks. Hence the rather weird choice between the EFF and having electricity. That said I liked your calm reasoned answer to his taunts. Just your tone brought perspective.

  • waleed abrahams says:

    This response could not have been put better as it clearly states the position is small and medium term businesses are in, which will eventually lead to further unemployment.

  • Dee Bee says:

    Dali Mpofu, a champagne socialist if ever there was one, is living proof that competence and hard work are not the only routes to riches in South Africa – political connectivity and access to gravy train cash are far easier paths to the obscene wealth he derides as ‘peanuts’.

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