Leave Mbeki alone, deal with your bad money

WE laughed so much we are now crying. You know the feeling?

WE laughed so much we are now crying. You know the feeling?

It may have begun earlier with Tony Yengeni and his discounted wheels that gave the townships a new name for the ML320. By the time Smuts Ngonyama reminded us he did not join the struggle to be poor, the rot had set in.

Then there was former unionist Willie Madisha, who, when he had the opportunity to hit back at his adversaries, chickened out. He could have easily invoked Dennis Brutus:

Forgive me, comrades / If I say something apolitical / And shamefully emotional / But in the dark of night / It is as if my heart is clutched / By a giant iron hand: / "Treachery, treachery" I cry out / Thinking of you, comrades / And how you have betrayed / The things we suffered for.

People have no respect for dead poets, so I gather from the wisdom of those who normally write in newspapers.

When the now silent Brutus woke up on August 23 2005 - at 3.05am, to be exact - to pen this, he could have been speaking for Madisha.

Had Madisha had the courage of his convictions, we would all know by now the truth about the R500000 in black plastic bags.

Here's something said by someone who is not a poet - a would-be poet, maybe, and is still alive.

"It is obvious that many in our society, having absorbed the value system of the capitalist market, have come to the conclusion that, for them, personal success and fulfilment means personal enrichment at all costs, and the most theatrical and striking public display of that wealth.

"I am arguing that, whatever the benefit to any individual member of our nation, including all those present in this hall, we nevertheless share a fundamental objective to defeat the tendency in our society towards the deification of personal wealth as the distinguishing feature of the new citizen of the new South Africa."

Former president Thabo Mbeki said this in July 2006 during the occasion of the Nelson Mandela Lecture.

It was long before many were caught with their fingers in the cookie jar or as they were stealing into the kitchen where the jars are kept.

At the time, Mbeki had neither spoken to Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan nor caught a whiff of the irregular tendering inside Transnet or in Limpopo.

So, according to newspaper reports, the chief prefect of the country's biggest kindergarten wants to blame all his woes on Mbeki.

It was also reported yesterday that Julius Malema said he was the victim of a conspiracy to discredit him.

The Wa-Benzi went on to say he owned no wheels bigger than a Mercedes-Benz.

As they were busy amassing their millions, Mbeki was reading up on Yeats, du Bois, Byron, et al. He did not aid and abet their greed in their acquisition of the Breitling watches, Ettiene Aigner suits, the Moët and Chandon Dom Pérignon and the fancy houses in the leafy suburbs.

Leave the man alone and, on your own, deal with the vulgarities of your new money.