What South Africa could have accomplished had these vast amounts not been stolen, plundered and gobbled up by those elected to serve the people, is impossible to imagine. With South Africa’s desperate levels of poverty and inequality, that we have lost so much through sheer greed, cunning, indifference and self-interest, is devastating. And that our politicians, elected leaders and those entrusted with enforcing the law have stood by and in some cases aided and abetted it all is, quite frankly, treasonous.
Within days of publication of Myburgh’s book, former President Thabo Mbeki penned a letter to the media disputing a sentence in a chapter titled “Mbeki’s ‘secret’ council” that Mbeki had met with the Guptas and that he had been “close” to the family. Myburgh writes of “consultative council” or a “secretive think tank” which Mbeki says was actually a “focus group” that enabled him to stay in touch with the “views of the population at large”. Mbeki takes issue with Myburgh’s assertion that Essop Pahad, who served as a minister in Mbeki’s presidency, and who is a former business partner of the Guptas, sought somehow to conceal Mbeki’s relationship with the controversial family. But this is all very small potatoes in the larger scheme of things although it is not insignificant that Mbeki has sought to distance himself from the Guptas.
“But despite the lofty ideals that accompanied the project’s launch phase GoL (as the project was known) came to be seen as one of the province’s costliest failures,” writes Myburgh. He writes that in 2013, after the Gauteng government had invested 11 years and R3-billion in taxpayers’ money, the entire GautengOnline project was scrapped, leaving the province’s poorest learners out of the technology loop.
This book comes at a time when we who were slowly boiling in the pot have suddenly come to understand just how much the heat has been turned up. Those who are implicated in the capture of the democratic state are not going to go quietly and ridding the ANC of Jacob Zuma will only be the start, as this book makes clear. Most of the biganyana skeletons come dropping out of the closet here and rattle around exposed and jittery. It’s not as if we didn’t know, but reading it all contained in 300 pages is rattling in itself.
The question at the end of it all is how the hell did we let this happen and how long will it take for us to recover, if we ever will? And then the most pressing question. Will those who did this be called to account? That, we surmise, will be fodder for a whole new book.