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“SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!” – These inspirational words came from South Africa’s (maybe not so honourable) Minister of Police, Bhekokwakhe “Bheki” Hamilton Cele. He is an absolute embarrassment to all South Africans. In spite of ever-increasing crime and drive-by murders in township taverns, he continues to strut about like a supreme Alpha-Cat on a catwalk. Please can someone ask the Minister to take off his hat when indoors, there is no risk of sunburn when inside.

Recently, Minister Cele had an altercation with Ian Cameron, who took the Minister on about his obvious incompetencies. As with so many incompetent Government Ministers, when he was called out for his mistakes, he got aggressive and pulled out the “race” card. I hate to tell these Government workers, but overt aggression and shouting claims of racism are clear indicators of their incompetence.

Minister Cele did not disappoint. He could not wait to scream, as loud as he was able, “SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP” and then go on to tell everyone that Mr Cameron sees the Minister as a “garden boy” or his mother as a “kitchen girl”. I listened and saw the video of both parties and concluded that Mr Cameron did NOT insinuate that the Minister was a “garden boy” but rather that he is a totally incompetent Government Minister. A sentiment with which I totally agree.

Bheki Cele was born in 1952 and obtained a teacher’s diploma. Later he joined uMkhonto we Sizwe where he became a “common and garden variety” terrorist. Both as a teacher and as a terrorist, he was totally incompetent; he was never able to teach his students and when he was caught by the Security Police, they allegedly – according to his rant – gave him cold water and he was treated badly. To use a soccer metaphor, 2 – 0 against the incompetent Minister!

As a reasonably patriotic South African, I cringed at Cele’s absurd ranting in-front of the entire world’s press. If I was his boss, I would take him behind closed doors and unceremoniously fire him for his bad behaviour.

But enough about his embarrassing rants.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is well liked by most South Africans. His anti-corruption stance is well known and recognised as the only real way that our country will progress. However, he has managed to surround himself with a bevy of incompetent Ministers. He is seemingly perplexed at the high crime and unemployment rates and the lack-lustre economy, which lead to most of the social ills in our society. Let’s look at a few of the choice Ministers with whom the President has surrounded himself.

  • David Dabede Mabuza, Deputy President: Earned a BA in education. Apart from being Secretary of the Azania Student Organisation in 1984, he has also held several Government positions. He has been accused of corruption, involvement in tender fraud, and even in the assassinations of political opponents. In 2018 the New York Times described him as “South Africa’s most dangerous”. This alleged criminal is our Deputy President!
  • Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs: Now this is a truly special Minister. He obtained a Medical Degree from the University of Natal in the late 1970’s. Apart from a short stint practicing medicine, he has relied on his political connections to keep himself employed. In 2019 he was named alongside “Ace” Magashule, Former Free State Premier, in a R5 million bribery and murder investigation. Not surprisingly he pleaded total innocence.
  • Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation: This prize jewel seems to have no qualifications at all. She has managed to revolve around the seat of power, only able to find employment in Government circles. In her most famous interview with Al-Jazeera in 1996, she lamented how she had to carry water on her head, and now she has a hole in her head. Brilliant!
  • Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, or NDZ as she is sometimes known, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs: She obtained a medical qualification from the University of Bristol in 1978. In 1994 she was appointed as Minister of Health. Medical doctors around the country speculated her surname, “ZUMA”, to be an acronym for “Zero Understanding of Medical administration”. Besides for having once been married to ex-President Zuma, she has managed to create chaos in most ministries to which she has been appointed.
  • Thandi Modise, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans: Apart from having absolutely zero experience in the defence and military structures of this, or any other, country, she serves as our Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. Her atrocious farming abilities in 2014, caused the death of several defenceless animals. In 2017, she could not resist dipping her fingers into a travel allowance scandal. A real stand-up kind-a gal!
  • Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, Member of the National Assembly: This “class act” has managed to obtain several certificates in Telecommunications and Project Management. It is uncertain how many were deserved and how many were due to political influence? Irrespective, our VIP decided to have lunch with Mduduzi Manana, Former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training. The lunch itself was not the problem, the problem was that it took place during strict Covid lock-down. So, while millions of South Africans were battling with the severe social and economic constraints imposed by the Government, this Minister decided to lie about her “important” lunch. The photos were posted online and the President gave her a little slap on the wrist instead of firing her outright.
  • Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu, Minister of Tourism: She is in a category all of her own. Lindiwe obtained a qualification from the University of York in the U.K., but to date her only employer has been the SA Government, who employed her because of her father’s standing within the ANC. Whilst being Defence Minister (again with no military knowledge or experience) she appointed Tony Yengeni, a politician, anti-Apartheid activist and former member of uMkhonto we Sizwe, to the Defence Review Committee, a clear indication of her poor judgement of character. The only area where she has shown complete competence is when it comes to using military jets to ferry herself around the world, and to profess her innocence to anyone who questioned why her international travel should pose a military risk to our Nation.
  • For the sake of brevity, I will go on to name my final Minster, Fikile April Mbalula, Minister of Transport: He has absolutely no credentials and is not qualified for anything other than being politically connected. He is even too incompetent to be corrupt. His real ‘coupe de grâce’ was to support Julius “Juju” Malema, Member ofe National Assembly, to succeed him as Youth League Leader. Juju rather opting to compromise the ANC and start his own political party, which has been instrumental in removing the ANC from several Local Government Councils. Fikile must be respected as the best South African to compromise the ANC and bring balance to our politics. Thus, again reflecting poorly on President Ramaphosa’s ability to select those closest to him.

I can go on, but the subject becomes boring, even to President Ramaphosa. Fortunately, President Ramaphosa has appointed some Ministers who do seem to have some measure of competence. People who, while they may not be experts in their fields, have some education and have shown half-measures of ability, and who have managed to remain void of scandal at the time of writing. These include the likes of; Pravin Gordhan, Member of the National Assembly, Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Patricia De Lille, Minister of
Public Works and Infrastructure, Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Mathume Joseph Phaahla, Minister of Health.

The question should be asked; “Why does President Ramaphosa not appoint a whole cabinet of experienced and knowledgeable people?” Surely, if we had a full cabinet of people who knew what they were doing and not simply the old sympathisers, perhaps we would be able to root out corruption, create jobs, eradicate poverty, and provide a decent living standard for all South Africans? Whilst doing my research, I was amazed at the number of times the same Ministers were rotated around the cabinet. Ministers appointed by Mr Mandela have been kept on in the cabinet even after his, and his successors, resignations.

As entrepreneurs, what can we learn from this? The truth is that we are facing the business world with our backs against the wall. We are generally undercapitalised, poorly supported by Government, and taxed to hell. Really not a great place to be! Recently, a client told me that South African Entrepreneurs are the best in the world, in spite of enduring Level 3 Lockdowns, Stage 2 loadshedding, poor exchange rates and currency downgrades, we still managed to survive.

Let’s look abroad for a minute. President Reagan is still today considered to have been one of America’s most successful Presidents, and a mediocre Hollywood actor. As an actor, he left a shabby legacy, but, as a President, he is revered. Why? Well President Reagan made a point of surrounding himself with very competent people. Even if they did not subscribe to his Conservative values, he would respect their points of view, and use them to shape his presidential decisions.

Fellow entrepreneurs, make sure that those people with whom you surround yourself are competent. While you may not like their political, financial or economic views, and you may not even like their advice, make sure they are not people who only tell you what you want to hear, rather people who give good common-sense advice. My father-in-law lamented about the value of common sense and the scarcity of it. In retrospect, as I get older, I appreciate his advice more and more.

You may not have a Board of Directors or a Cabinet to assist you, but there are people on whom you can rely. Make sure those people know what they are talking about. Test their advice with what you read in the press, advice you receive from other advisors, and your own inner circle. From the above you would be well advised to not make one of your advisors a politically connected individual.

Peter Carlisle CA (SA)
August 2022


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