Mkhwebane can’t please everyone
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.