South Africans are used to being lied to. For decades the Apartheid Government told its citizens that there were major advantages to “Separate Development,” that the different educations systems were equal and that its armed forces were not supporting the a wars in Angola and Rhodesia and Mozambique. Of course they also insisted that the Bible (not sure which version) supported the Afrikaaner ideology, and who were we to disagree?
And then more recently they were told by their President that his massive USD23 Million spend on his Nkandla private home was for “security upgrades” and therefore was justified as a valid tax payer spend. You see, he explained, slowly so as not to get this wrong, it might look like a swimming pool, you might swim in it like you would in a swimming pool, and if you swallow water, it would taste a lot like the water of a swimming pool, but in fact, (and this is very clever of us), it’s a “Fire Pool!” Because if in the event of a fire and we needed water, well the “Fire” pool would provide just the thing. Because it has water. Clever ne’?
Incidentally, the enclosures for the chickens and cattle were also expensed to “Security” costs, because, well, those darned chickens kept setting off the alarm beams. And we all know how frustrating that can be. And when the President arms his system before retiring for the night with any one of his wives (aside from the one who tried to poison him recently), he really doesn’t want anything triggered, prematurely, so to speak.
And now we have a new situation. In recent weeks the government has been accused of bribing FIFA to have the Soccer World Cup staged in the South Africa in 2010. To say that no one was particularly surprised (aside from those who allegedly did the bribing) is an understatement. In fact most the country’s folk hardly batted a corruption -weary eye. In a country where traffic cops routinely request “ breakfast money” in order to avoid a fine for talking on one’s cell phone, in a country where daily, corruption, fraud and massive theft scream at us from the papers, the only reason it might have shocked anyone was because any wrongdoing was denied.
The facts that we have are as follows. South African officials now admit to the payment of USD10M to FIFA. They maintain, however, that this was not a bribe. No sirree. The money was to be used for “upliftment” and projects in Africa and its Diaspora. Which is wonderful if we think about it. A country that can hardly feed its citizens, can certainly not educate them, house them or provide healthcare. A country that has failed to “uplift” its own, that cannot provide jobs or electricity donated USD10M to an unspecified project in an unspecified country.
And. It did so without fuss. It didn’t demand to be involved, didn’t take the well deserved credit for this altruistic gesture and it kept it a secret from its citizens. Because the South African Government is so darn modest. Gosh. It even kept it a secret from members of parliament because, well, we don’t like to talk about these things, unless of course the FBI or Interpol ask us to.
South Africans in general are nice people. But most aren’t as stupid as its government would like to believe. They might have been kept in an enclosure and fed tripe for years, and mostly, with good humour they played along and pretended that were convinced, even if they weren’t. But the latest scandal is no longer one that is dependent on what its citizens believe. The bar has been raised, as it is now global law enforcement that is asking the Government the questions. And it had best get its ducks in a row, because if it walks like a bribe it probably is swimming pool.