Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Wounded Buffalo of Society

Alfred_Jacob_Miller_-_Wounded_Buffalo_-_Walters_37194056

Wounded Buffalo: Alfred J Miller

“Told you.” Gertruida switches off the radio. “The ANC is in a corner. No way they can afford to fire their own president – they’ll just create an impossible situation for themselves. I mean: he’s also the president of the ANC, remember? He dishes out the goodies and they all want some.  On the other hand, the ANC isn’t stupid; they are all too aware of the fall-out of the series of scandals Zuma has landed them in. The only thing they can do now, is damage control.”

“Shew, Gertruida. Why can’t he just resign, like the Iceland guy did? Take the honourable way out and get it over with. As things stand now, we’re in for mass action, strikes, marches, protests and civil unrest. The government has prodded the sleeping giant of society for too long and they’re waking up with a headache – and they don’t like that. The cost of mass action is going to be more than the mere building of a private home in Nkandla.”

“Resign, Servaas? After the way they got rid of Mbeki? No, Zuma will sing his songs, dance his dances and giggle his way through all this. I’m guessing, but the cost of the upgrades at Nkandla won’t even put a dent in the savings he’s accumulated after 1994 – and especially after he became president.. Money isn’t the object. Remember, he used to be in charge of intelligence in the ANC – he knows all the secrets and he’s wielding that knowledge with great finesse. You cross that man at your own peril. He’s got the power, the contacts, the money and don’t forget: he holds the keys to many opportunities. He’s in the game for all the wrong reasons – and that’s why they can’t get rid of him.”

Servaas sighs. The great promise of democracy has turned into a curse of a one-party state. Whichever way he looks at the future, he simply cannot see much hope. And if he feels like this, how much more would the poverty stricken masses be despondent at the prospect of a bleak future?

“They’ll burn a few more libraries, I suppose.”

“Yes, Servaas, just like the government burnt the constitution. Tit for tat.”

“It’s like that buffalo the hunter wounded a few years back, remember?”

Gertruida looks up sharply. Yes, she remembers the incident that happened  on the farm in Limpopo. Vetfaan’s distant nephew owned a hunting farm in the Bushveld, where overseas hunters paid handsomely to hunt a variety of game. During the hunting season of 2013, a hunter got excited and shot at a huge buffalo, wounding it in the shoulder area. The buffalo went for the hunter. Vetfaan’s nephew realised what was happening and tried to bring the charging beast down with a head shot. The bullet glanced off a horn. Another shot went wide. This all happened in a fraction of a second.

The buffalo, enraged and in pain, wasn’t going to stop. The foreign hunter was going to die. Vetfaan’s nephew then ran from his hiding place, positioning himself for a better shot – the very last chance to save the hunter. The buffalo swerved, suddenly focussing on the new adversary.

“He died heroically, didn’t he? Poor chap. But at least he saved that stupid hunter’s life.”

Servaas nods. “That’s exactly my point. A good man died to save a stupid one. And now the ANC is doing the same thing. They’re positioning themselves between a wounded  society and a stupid hunter. Only: this political buffalo is not as fast as that one in the Bushveld. It’s a slow, ponderous animal – but once it focusses on a prey, it won’t give up until it’s trampled its enemy to death. It happened to every empire you can think of – from Babylon to the Romans and the British Empire. King Leopoldt, Reagan, prime ministers and presidents – history is littered with the corpses of men and women who thought they could outsmart the system. Fortunately, the buffalo always wins…”

He gets a fondly surprised smile from Gertruida. Yes, old Servaas has seen governments and parties come and go. He, like the rest of the population, is no stranger to change.

Vetfaan walks in, dusts his hat and sits down with an expectant wink. Time for a beer; he’s been servicing his old Landy and it’s hot out there.

“The weather is changing,” he says conversationally. “The wind is picking up.”

“It is, Vetfaan. It surely is…”

When Panama comes to Prieska

panama-papers.jpgEverybody knows Kroek Knoetze – although they’ll never use his gossip name whenever he’s introduced. He’s one of those guys blessed with both physical as well as legal muscles. A former Mister Monster (an unofficial barefisted competition with no holds barred, resulting in several contenders facing hefty medical bills.), it is also said (but never verified) that he also holds a PhD in law. He never chose to practice as an advocate, however. He simply set up a small office on the outskirts of Prieska, where he refused to see the occasional desperate housewife or disgruntled spouse. His main activity – according to local know-it-all, Hessie Houdtbeck – concerns shady deals involving land distribution to BEE companies.

“Has he been back?” Servaas glances at Vetfaan when he walks in. “I believe he saw you two days ago?”

Vetfaan smiles back. “No, and he won’t be. He’s in Switzerland now, according to what Gertruida tells me.”

“But he wanted to buy up your farm. Land redistribution, as I understand it.”

“Ja, that’s right.But I think he’s lost interest.”

Gertruida comes to the rescue. “Come on, Vetfaan, tell him the whole story. You know Servaas has been to Upington for the past few days – in fact, he left just before your meeting with Kroek. Be nice and tell him the story.”

The burly farmer sighs – he doesn’t like to brag; but when Gertruida tells you to speak up, you’d better do it. Otherwise she’ll inform Servaas about the events, and she has a way of dramatising things.

“Well, it went like this: he rocked up with a stack of papers, telling me to sign. I told him there was no claim on my farm. He disagreed, using a lot of Latin I didn’t understand, and kept on insisting that I sign the documents. I told him I lost my glasses and couldn’t read the fine print. He said I needn’t worry about it. I said I always worry about fine print. He offered to read it – more Latin.

“At that point I became fed up and asked him to leave. He wasn’t keen. Now he’s having a sort-of animal operation in Switzerland.”

“It’s called a rhinoplasty, Vetfaan. It’s for his nose.”

“Well, we know he’s not there for his nose alone, Gertruida. It’s about that chap they arrested at the airport when he tried to leave for London. The one that was going to tell the world about the family that hijacked our president – and his family – and the political party. That happened right after I convinced him to return to Prieska. And just before the Panama Papers got in the news. That’s why he’s there, not his nose. Anyway, it wasn’t broken that bad – just a bit out of shape, if you asked me.”

“Whoa! Did you break Kroek’s nose? And you haven’t got a bruise to show? Now that’s impressive!” Servaas raises his bushy eyebrows in appreciation. “Most impressive, I’d say.”

“You haven’t been listening, Servaas. Here’s the South African link with Mossack Fonseca. There was bound to be one, don’t you think? With Zuma’s family allegedly leaking millions out of the country, they had to have somebody locally to help them with the transactions. And if Kroek was involved, it explains his rapid exit…” Gertruida still loves international intrigue and is regularly updated by her former colleagues.

“You actually broke his nose? Shees, man, it should be on the TV! To beat Kroek in a fistfight….wow!” Servaas winks at Boggel. “That deserves a round on the house.”

***

Rolbos is like this. The world is filled with Kroeks and Fonsecas and people who explore every which way to corrupt the system – and they get away with it, just like our own leaders in parliament do.

But to break Mister Monster’s nose? Now that really is big news.

And deserves a round on the house.

***

“Big day in Parliament today,” Gertruida tries to get the conversation going amidst the free drinks. “They’re trying to get rid of Zuma.”

“What….?” Servaas peers myopically at her. “Oh.” He shakes his head, trying to focus, gives up and smiles. “Won’t happen. Not until Vetfaan talks to Kroek again…”