Mkhwe­bane can’t please ev­ery­one

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WHEN Euse­bius McKaiser in­ter­viewed the pub­lic pro­tec­tor this week, he be­gan with a sweet­heart ques­tion aimed at eas­ing his ra­dio talk show guest into a re­laxed con­ver­sa­tion.

Af­ter re­mind­ing lis­ten­ers that Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane was first and fore­most a hu­man being, the philoso­pher and pub­lic in­tel­lec­tual asked how she felt at that mo­ment.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I’m highly favoured … I’m peace­ful. I’m just do­ing my work.”

Now, con­sider. She’d re­leased her over­reach­ing re­port on the Bankorp bailout the day be­fore. The con­sti­tu­tion must be amended, she had de­clared, to change the Re­serve Bank’s man­date: it need no longer main­tain the sta­bil­ity of the rand, but in­stead must pro­mote eco­nomic growth, some­thing al­to­gether more vague.

Mkhwe­bane had set sail into un­cer­tain, choppy wa­ters. A fol­low-up ques­tion was clearly in the off­ing.

“What is your cop­ing mech­a­nism?” McKaiser asked. “Do you just get on with it?”

Mkhwe­bane re­sponded: “As I said, I am highly favoured. I’m a Chris­tian, I pray a lot, and I think God is giv­ing me the strength to go on, and I’m there to serve the peo­ple. I think I know I won’t be pleas­ing ev­ery­one, and I’m just try­ing to do my job.”

Here at the Ma­hogany Ridge, we must some­times be strapped down like Ulysses, lest we are driven by the Siren song of talk show prat­tle to dash our brains on the rocks. This was maybe one such oc­ca­sion.

But the pi­ous Mkhwe­bane was right about one thing. She hasn’t pleased ev­ery­one, least of all Absa, who are seek­ing a high court re­view of her find­ing that they’re li­able to pay back R1.125 bil­lion for the Bankorp bailout.

Cue re­venge con­spir­acy the­o­ries as a re­sult of their sev­er­ing ties with Duduzane Zuma, the pres­i­dent’s son. Or re­port­edly threat­en­ing to close First Lady Num­ber-What­ever Tobeka Madiba Zuma’s ac­count be­cause mil­lions of un­ex­plained rands were wash­ing through it. Or that it had come over all strictly fidu­cial on the back­sides of any num­ber of Gupta stuffs.

Absa primly pointed out they’ve been cleared by in­ves­ti­ga­tions, headed by learned judges and what have you, of pay­ing back the money. And they’re a bit miffed that Mkhwe­bane had ei­ther ig­nored or mis­un­der­stood their sub­mis­sions in the course of her in­quiry. A dirty busi­ness, in all – but then this is how the banks and white­monopoly cap­i­tal fight.

There were no such mis­un­der­stand­ings, ap­par­ently, with Stephen Mit­ford Good­son.

He was an un­set­tling choice of in­ter­vie­wee in Mkhwe­bane’s probe. On the one hand, Good­son is a for­mer Re­serve Bank di­rec­tor, and on the other, a Holo­caust re­vi­sion­ist and ar­dent ad­mirer of Adolf Hitler.

He stood as a can­di­date for the Ubuntu Party in the 2014 elec­tions, but has since pro­gressed to muck­ing about with Black First Land First, the al­legedly rev­o­lu­tion­ary rab­ble headed up by Andile Mngxi­tama, the Gup­tas’ pet rad­i­cal.

Good­son said that the “con­ver­sa­tion which I had with ad­vo­cate Mkhwe­bane is con­fi­den­tial and I am there­fore un­able to pro­vide any de­tails”.

Maybe. But we do know that he man­aged to press upon the pub­lic pro­tec­tor some of his fevered scrib­blings. Mkhwe­bane met with Good­son on April 20. Two days later, she posted the cover of his work, A His­tory of Bank­ing and the Enslave­ment of Mankind (2014), on Twit­ter and Face­book, punt­ing it as a “must-read book”.

Its cover blurb re­veals it is lit­tle more than an up­date of the no­to­ri­ous The Pro­to­cols of the El­ders of Zion. It reads, in part: “The role of money­len­ders in his­tory was once aptly termed by many acute ob­servers as the ‘Hid­den Hand’ … The abil­ity to op­er­ate a fraud­u­lent credit and loan sys­tem has long been known, and through all the slick­ness of a snake-oil sales­man, the money-lenders – the same types Je­sus whipped from the Tem­ple – have per­suaded gov­ern­ments that bank­ing is best left to pri­vate in­ter­ests.” Big Shy­lock, to you and I. Good­son also put to­gether An Il­lus­trated Guide to Adolf Hitler and the Third Re­ich (2009). It is de­scribed on Ama­zon as a “strik­ingly de­signed” col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs with text – “mi­nus the political cor­rect­ness, of course” – that gives an “in­sight into the real Adolf Hitler, with­out the oblig­a­tory es­tab­lish­ment pro­pa­ganda”.

It con­tin­ues: “This book is great for young and old alike, and it’s a per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to the tragic – yet in­spir­ing – life of Hitler, and the Third Re­ich. Per­fect, too, for high school and col­lege stu­dents.” How dis­turb­ing that the pub­lic pro­tec­tor should even ac­knowl­edge this sort of ha­tred.

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