Nkosazana Zuma's evil shadow

Nkosazana Zuma's evil shadow

The company that distributes millions of state social security grants has not only the government but all South Africa hanging from a cliff - all because the Minister of Social Development and Zuma favourite, Bathabile Dlamini, has been lying to Parliament for the past year.

Over the past year Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a subsidiary of the US-based Net1 Group was responsible for distributing R130 billion (close on R11bn a month) on behalf of the state to 17 million South Africans – 30% of the population – who are dependent on the grants for their survival.

But on 31 March the company’s contract comes to an end. On April Fool’s Day the Department of Social Development, by way of its division, the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), was to have taken on that mammoth responsibility itself.

Road swindle: tarred and feathered

Road swindle: tarred and feathered

The great road robbery equals billions of Nkandlas.

It’s long been known that South African motorists have been fleeced when it comes to road construction costs, but by exactly how much has always been a matter of speculation. Now we have a better idea.

The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), originally costed at R4.6 billion in the mid-2000s for a 340km upgrade, ended up costing just shy of R18bn for 193km. After a year-long study involving whistleblowers, road engineers and quantity surveyors, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) concluded that the 193km freeway improvement project should have cost no more than R8bn, even allowing for cost escalations and other contingencies. That’s a R10bn overcharge, enough to build 40 Nkandlas.

The client in this case was none other than SA National Roads Agency (Sanral), which paid an average of R86.6m per kilometre – between two and three times what comparable roads in Africa (and South Africa) would cost.

If the R10bn cost overrun is correct – and several industry insiders claim it is – how did the construction companies pull it off? And why are no construction executives in jail for this swindle?

False petrol consumption figures fuel Ford's fire

False petrol consumption figures fuel Ford's fire

Doughty widow challenges advertising claims.

Tough times for Ford South Africa. First, that embarrassing business when some of their cars kept bursting into flames.  Now it’s fuel consumption. A 74-year-old Cape Town widow, getting no satisfaction over her complaints of excessive fuel usage by her budget Ford runabout, has mandated attorneys to “institute an independent public investigation into the practice of misrepresented fuel efficacy figures in the motor industry”.

In January Ford SA recalled more than 4,500 of its 2012-2014 1.6 Kuga SUVs after one death and 46 confirmed fires, 11 in January alone. The apparent cause: cracking of the engine’s aluminium cylinder head, leaking oil into a hot engine compartment – and conflagration.

When Marie-Anna Cherenack went shopping for a new car in 2013 the foremost thought in her mind was fuel efficiency. And when she paid a visit to the Imperial Ford franchised dealership in Cape Town, she was impressed by the spec sheet for their Ford Figo 1.4 Ambiente, a facelift version of the Fiesta. The specs claimed a fuel consumption rate of 6.6 litres per 100km. Just what I’m looking for, said Cherenack, slapping down R90,000 cash for the white Figo (recommended retail price R118,670).

Sweet talk

Sweet talk

A brand of purportedly diabetic-friendly agave nectar being sold in South Africa is actually just fructose syrup – putting lives at risk.

The South African organic food industry has been taken for a bitter ride for at least eight years by a foul-mouthed Eastern Cape conman who even made a name for himself as subject of a story about a lovers’ bustup in Die Kaapse Son. This is according to a scorned ex-wife, former employees and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Brian Neary, 54, claims to trade in the agave plant – a succulent native to Mexico that is also used in the making of Tequila – selling it into the organic food market where it is used as a honey or sugar substitute.

But the mini-empire built by Neary, a resident of the plush Marina Martinique Estate in Jeffreys Bay, is built upon an elaborate con.

Leuens Botha and the weird weir

Leuens Botha and the weird weir

In her autobiography Not Without a Fight, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says of her former colleague (and my neighbour) Theuns Botha: “He had a different face for each constituency, but they each had the same nickname for him: Leuens (Lies) ”. She goes on to describe how, whilst he held a senior position in the DA, Botha led a secret right-wing group within the party, plotting to either take it over or destroy it. Leaked documents reveal his method, which Zille describes as a “vilification campaign”, with Botha telling his fellow turncoats:  “Just make 100% sure you remain anonymous. Thanks. Theuns”.

This struck a chord because I’ve been vilified by Theuns Botha myself recently. He says that I lit a fire to deliberately endanger his thatched house, that I drove through his garden to demolish his outside lights and sprinklers and that I tried to murder his wife and his two police bodyguards.

Bad policy

Bad policy

How to fight insurance claim blackmail.

The revelation (in nose208) that Outsurance had been up to its tricks in New Zealand – “Outsurance’s Youi hooey” – came as no surprise to me. The only surprise was that the Outsurance subsidiary, Youi, has actually been ordered to pay a R3.08-million fine in the Auckland District Court for its false or misleading representations, for false or misleading statements made by its telesales people, and for illegally debiting consumer 
accounts.

It seems that the leopard doesn’t change its spots – even if it migrates to a foreign land.

On wings of song

On wings of song

Cape Town’s Youth Choir plans to conquer New York.

About 15 years ago, when he was being interviewed for the position of conductor for the illustrious Cape Town Youth Choir, Leon Starker was asked by the panel to define success. This was shortly after the choir had won top honours at the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod in Wales. “I told them that, for me, real success would be to sing in Carnegie Hall,” says Starker.

He got the job and, in 2008, the choir did indeed sing at Carnegie Hall in New York, but alongside a few other choirs, not solo.

Real success meant doing their own concert at Carnegie Hall, so about a year ago Starker decided it was time. “I emailed the people at Carnegie Hall and I asked, ‘How do I book Carnegie Hall?’ They told me and I booked it, there and then! Then I had to look for the money to fund it,” says Starker. “Renting the hall is about $15,000.”

Emirates play power politics

Emirates play power politics

Faith and oil money fuel tensions in Horn of Africa.

Relations between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula go back centuries, with trade playing a key component in binding their peoples together. Religion has also played a part. The expansion of Wahhabism – the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam propagated by Saudi Arabia – has been funded by the massive oil wealth of the kingdom.

Mosques, Koranic schools and imams have been provided with support over many years. Gradually this authoritarian form of Islam began to take hold in the Horn. While some embraced it, others didn’t.

If America's first, who's second?

If America's first, who's second?

If America’s first, who’s second?

These days news can be very depressing – especially where politics is concerned. It is widely recognised that for this sad condition laughter is by far the best antidote. Right now, who couldn’t do with a laugh or two?

And with so many creative people out there who have online access readily available, it is hardly surprising that when someone like Donald Trump storms on to the political scene, the laughter machine instantly moves into top gear.

Down and Out: Trump effect

Down and Out: Trump effect

Waves across the waves The gloves are off as the Trump effect gives licence for every nasty to crawl out of the woodwork. At a recent fund-raising dinner of the Q Society (self-described as Austral ...

SAA spends R21 million on investigations yet takes no action

By Alf Lees MP - DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Finance.

A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that South African Airways spent R 21 million on 16 investigations, all of which centred on allegations of fraud and corruption within SAA, but do not seem to have
 

Shocking taped conversation leads to Nkandla

Leaked phone recording draws spotlight on to financial and political ambitions of Zuma’s women. For the past month the South African media and many members of parliament have been in possession of a recording ...
 
Nkosazana Zuma's evil shadow

Nkosazana Zuma's evil shadow

The company that distributes millions of state social security grants has not only the government but all South Africa hanging from a cliff - all because the Minister of Social Development and Zuma ...

Road swindle: tarred and feathered

Road swindle: tarred and feathered

The great road robbery equals billions of Nkandlas. It’s long been known that South African motorists have been fleeced when it comes to road construction costs, but by exactly how much has always been ...

False petrol consumption figures fuel Ford's fire

False petrol consumption figures fuel Ford's fire

Doughty widow challenges advertising claims. Tough times for Ford South Africa. First, that embarrassing business when some of their cars kept bursting into flames.  Now it’s fuel consumption. A 74-year-old Cape Town widow, ...

Sweet talk

Sweet talk

A brand of purportedly diabetic-friendly agave nectar being sold in South Africa is actually just fructose syrup – putting lives at risk. The South African organic food industry has been taken for a ...

Leuens Botha and the weird weir

Leuens Botha and the weird weir

In her autobiography Not Without a Fight, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says of her former colleague (and my neighbour) Theuns Botha: “He had a different face for each constituency, but they each ...

Bad policy

Bad policy

How to fight insurance claim blackmail. The revelation (in nose208) that Outsurance had been up to its tricks in New Zealand – “Outsurance’s Youi hooey” – came as no surprise to me. The only ...

On wings of song

On wings of song

Cape Town’s Youth Choir plans to conquer New York. About 15 years ago, when he was being interviewed for the position of conductor for the illustrious Cape Town Youth Choir, Leon Starker was ...

Emirates play power politics

Emirates play power politics

Faith and oil money fuel tensions in Horn of Africa. Relations between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula go back centuries, with trade playing a key component in binding their peoples ...

If America's first, who's second?

If America's first, who's second?

If America’s first, who’s second? These days news can be very depressing – especially where politics is concerned. It is widely recognised that for this sad condition laughter is by far the best antidote. ...

Down and Out: Trump effect

Down and Out: Trump effect

Waves across the waves The gloves are off as the Trump effect gives licence for every nasty to crawl out of the woodwork. At a recent fund-raising dinner of the Q Society (self-described as Australia’s premier ...