Constitutional Hill

What’s that smell? Must be the name droppings

Minister Jeff Radebe on Sunday blamed “name-dropping” for the Gupta corruption scandal and said the government wanted name-dropping to be classified as a form of gross misconduct – presumably for members of the civil service. But for Radebe to blame officials for a culture of name-dropping and to rail against such a culture, is a bit like a habitual drunk blaming a culture of wine making and railing against liquor stores to excuse the fact that he killed a child while driving under the influence of liquor.

Several years ago I was involved in an argument with the principal of a high school in Polokwane. The principal had endorsed unfair discrimination against gay and lesbian learners during a school assembly (comparing homosexuality to Satanism) and I was trying to get the principal to repent and to respect the existing law. The principal was evidently an old style beneficiary of Broederbond-style affirmative action gone wrong and was clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed. He refused to acknowledge the existence of the sections of various Acts prohibiting his school from unfairly discriminating against gay and lesbian learners, choosing to repeat his own narrow-minded, racist and homophobic views as justification for his actions.

As it dawned on me that the principal lacked the basic intelligence and academic literacy required to engage in a logical and coherent debate, I am ashamed to admit I finally reverted to name-dropping. Pretending to be good friends with the then-Minister of Education, I threatened to report him to my good friend, the minister, if he did not relent.

But even this intellectually challenged man did not fall for my bluff. He knew as well as I did that I had no influence with the Minister of Education. I could drop her name a million times until her name shattered into a million bright little pieces at my feet – he would be safe in ignoring my increasingly shrill demands and threats. He knew I had no influence or power over the minister and hence that the name-dropping was nothing but an empty gesture to try to get him to do what his reactionary politics prevented him from doing.

Now, of course, the situation would have been different if I was widely known to be a friend and financial benefactor of the minister. The principal would probably have quaked in his boots if it was widely known that I were the minister’s financial benefactor and that I had been bankrolling the minister and her family. He would have jumped and done as I asked if he had thought that the minister would do anything I told her to do because I had bribed the minister. In those circumstances, not even a person as stupid as that principal would have dared to ignore my complaints. He would have been far too scared of losing his job or being transferred to Putsonderwater High School.

But because the principal correctly suspected that I would never pay bribes to a politician, because we both (probably correctly) assumed that the Minister of Education would never have taken bribes from me or anyone else, and because it was therefore highly unlikely that I had the Minister of Education in my pocket to do as I ordered her to do, that principal had no problem in ignoring my pathetic attempt at name-dropping.

The admission by Minister Radebe that “names were dropped”, is therefore telling. Using the passive voice – a classic technique of evasion – Minister Radebe on Sunday said that the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Transport and President Jacob Zuma’s names were dropped (by whom we are not told) to officials to get them to break the law.

Even if we believe Minister Radebe when he claims that no minister, nor the president, gave direct instructions to any of the officials who orchestrated this abuse of state power, the very appeal to “name-dropping” as a justification for exculpating the politicians, suggest that corruption is at the heart of this scandal. For some reason – which might or might not be linked to activities that are prohibited by the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act – all the officials miraculously believed that when the Gupta’s drop the president’s name, they better jump – after asking the Gupta’s how high they were required to jump.

The most telling and shameful aspect of Guptagate is that – even on the version of events dished up to us by the likes of Minister Radebe – the officials all believed that they had to follow the Gupta’s request or face the consequences from the president and the ministers whose names were dropped. On Radebe’s own version, then, senior officials believed that the president and his ministers were corrupt and willing to break the law and endanger South Africa’s security. On this version officials wilfully broke the law and endangered South Africa’s national security because they thought their jobs depended on fulfilling the corrupt and unlawful wishes of the President and his Ministers.

This is an extraordinary admission to make and I am not sure the minister and his colleagues have given sufficient thought to what they are admitting to. They are, in effect, telling us that the culture of corruption and bribery around the president and the government he leads is so deeply entrenched that – without even having to take instructions from the president or one of his ministers and regardless of what the actual situation might be – senior officials would break the law and endanger national security to please the Guptas, because they believed the Guptas had bribed President Zuma and could instruct him what to do.

What is equally astonishing is that Minister Radebe and his colleagues have failed to ask the obvious question that flows from this unintended admission of government entanglement with corruption: why would the officials believe that the name-dropping by the Guptas (or their underlings) of President Zuma’s name was anything but the empty threats made by any other citizen? After all, those officials would have been unimpressed if any of us ordinary citizens, who (unlike the Guptas) had not been paying off the bond on the house of one of the president’s wives and had not co-opted the president’s son as a business partner, had dropped President Zuma’s name in order to get those officials to break the law. I could drop President Zuma’s name a million times, and I would still not get a single official to allow me to land a civilian plane at Waterkloof Air Force base.

When Radebe claims that the scandal shows that name-dropping in the public service had to be classified as a form of gross misconduct, he is either demonstrating a tenuous grip on logic, or he is wilfully trying to mislead the public. Officials do not drop names. People like the Guptas drop names. They drop names because they have paid their dues and know that the officials will feel pressured by the name-dropping. They drop names because they have names in their pockets to drop. People who drop names have those names in their pockets because they are willing to pay for the privilege.

It is not the officials who are at fault. It is the business people who buy the influence of powerful politicians with offers of financial and other assistance (and the powerful politicians who allow this to happen), who are at fault. And there is no need for new legislation to deal with this problem. This kind of buying of influence that makes name-dropping effective is all outlawed by the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. This is, not so incidentally, the very Act under which President Jacob Zuma was going to be prosecuted before charges against him were mysteriously dropped. (I guess President Zuma must have dropped his own name to get the National Prosecuting Authority conveniently to make those charges go away.)

So, dear reader, when you hear a politician bemoaning the culture of name-dropping, ask that politician whether he or she could take a lie detector test to promise that he or she had never received any financial or other benefit from any one of those rich businessmen and -women who so love to drop the names of our politicians. Then watch as that politician squirms to avoid answering your question.

  • Brett Nortje – Help! Help! The ANC has turned my country into a Bantustan!

    Most importantly: What kind of Golden Handshake will the Chief of State Protocol, Ambassador V.B. Koloane, get to make sure he stays shut up?

  • ozoneblue

    “The principal had endorsed unfair discrimination against gay and lesbian learners during a school assembly ”

    However if they were White the discrimination would be fair.


  • ozoneblue

    “Police are investigating the deaths of 27 boys who attended initiation schools in Mpumalanga, police said on Monday.

    “Twenty-seven boys have died in initiation schools in the last two weeks,” Colonel Leonard Hlathi said.”

    27 youngsters dead, almost equal to Marikana. Prof Baboon Makgoba – you Africans are going to dominate the whites by butchering our young boys?

  • Deloris Dolittle

    @Oz, that is certainly a good observation. The police shoot dead 34 strikers and millions are spent on a commission yet every year more yound men than this die in initiaions schools and very little is done. We live in a strange country indeed. A few years ago I got very upset about teh deaths during initiation but now I have stopped caring. It is not a problem for me to fix.

  • Pekkil

    the ‘not in my name’ defence is fascinating. On their own account, no one in the executive knew anything about this. So, we’re paying for oversight that we are not getting? That leaves the president and his merry men with a conclusion that they are either incompetent, as they have no clue what is going on in their departments under their watch, or they’re lying to Parliament tomorrow, if they stand by their report. Presumably, that carries some risk too?


    to see a man like Radebe trying to mislead south africans was painful. its no wonder that the Guptas rule with impunity!

  • Maggs Naidu – Hail Guptas! (

    In all this bullshit flowing from our esteemed cabinet, it’s weird that no one has questioned what the Guptas’ Cessna was doing in Waterkloof!

    Maybe Minister Radebe did issue the Note Verbale for that.

    It has also emerged that it wasn’t only the Jet Airways Airbus that landed at Waterkloof: the Gupta family also landed their private Cessna Citation Sovereign business jet there on Tuesday.

    A photo of the jet with the name of the Guptas’ computer company, Sahara, clearly painted on the tail in blue was taken at Air Force Base Waterkloof on Tuesday.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Maggs

    Shaddup now about so-called Guptagate, a media-driven diversion if ever there was one.

    I am more excited about the fact that a WHITISH PROPHET called Richard Grey foretold in 2005 that M-squared would become Chief Justice, a fact that he confirmed by FASTING!

    How you explain that?

  • Brett Nortje – Help! Help! The ANC has turned my country into a Bantustan!

    You heard it from me, Maggs, you plagiarist you!

    Next you’re going to deny I prodded you into questioning why the ANC has a copy of the Cluster Committee report when it hasn’t been released to the public yet….

  • Maggs Naidu – Jesus spelled backwards sounds like sausage! (

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 21, 2013 at 10:15 am


    2004. Not 2004!

    The Mogoeng-squared did not imply at all that he was unsuitable for the post of CJ but that an extraordinary intervention by god, revealed by Grey, confirmed by some Nigerians was at the heart of his phenomenal ascension to the highest judicial office in all of Africa (sort of like the ascension that the sausage guy did to heaven – with lights flashing, angels singing, religious freaks crying …).

    It may seem that he’s particularly unsuitable at first glance by as Pastor Errol Naidoo (the empty your wallets guy) put it very well – ok I think he put it very well since I stopped listening after the first bit of rubbish pouring out the mouth of our CJ.

    But explain thiss to me – is this religious fasting the spiritual equivalent of prisoners on hunger-strike?

    Do people really say to god “I’m gonna starve my self to death if you don’t appoint me Chief Justice”?

    And then god responds “Ok, ok dufus – I rather appoint you Chief Justice, than have you here with me”?

    That would be like blackmail, wouldn’t it?

    If so, god is gonna be very angry with Mogoeng-squared, ne – it’s gonna send Mogoeng to the place where all wayward, spoiled brats go when the die – LIMPOPO!

  • John Roberts

    Why all this hullaballoo ???


  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    John Roberts
    May 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Hey JR,

    Nice to see you back.

    What’s news from racist heaven?

    Anyway – you must be spying on my Twitter line!

    Pan Troglodyte ‏@pan_troglodyte 20 May

    @maggsnaidu As JR would say : Sweet fuckall will happen

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Maggs

    “is this religious fasting the spiritual equivalent of prisoners on hunger-strike”

    No. “Fasting” in judicial slang means getting your judgments out as quickly as possible, so that, when one next appears before the JSC, one will not be hauled over the coals for judicial delay.


  • John Roberts

    Hey Maggs .. there is no racism in Oz. There is nobody to be racist against. There are no blacks in my neighbourhood. There is also no crime :)

  • Gwebecimele
  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Eish Dworky,

    So “Fasting” in judicial slang means getting your judgments out as quickly as possible.

    Does it follow that when Mogoeng said his wife and children were fasting with him, that it meant that they were helping him write some of his judgements?

    While it may seem like that to us lay people that some of his judgements had “domestic support”, but I really find it hard to believe.

    I think you’re lying about that!

    p.s. I haven’t got to the end of the movie – please spoil it for me an say if Pastor Naidoo really says “Empty your wallets!”

  • spoiler

    What Pekkil said … where did JR get his degree again?

  • Gwebecimele

    NPA misfiring in all cylinders.

    Is the spokesperson doing a “Polela(Jub Jub)” on twitter?

  • Mike

    The real issue here is that the Gupta’s knew or ought to have known that the request they were making for the landing of the JET Airways aircraft was against the law.
    Ignorance of the law is no excuse so why has nobody laid any charges yet.
    If I go through a red robot and am caught doing so by the JMPD and pay a bribe to the traffic officer, can I then argue that my actions were now legal simply because the traffice officer did not fine me for a transgression that carries a penalty of a fine.
    I have lived with the daily sanctimonious proproganda of the ANC since 1994 and have long come come to the conclusion that they are a political and criminal mafia and anybody who tries to defend them at this juncture in 2013 are nothing but a bunch of morons.
    The ANC was built up around the hype of Nelson Mandela imprisonment, since his release they are exposed for what they are, and that is a disgrace to the human race with their bare faced lies thinking that they are advancing a coherent answer to their “in your face corruption”.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ PdV

    “What’s that smell? Must be the name droppings”

    It is RACIST to speak in terms of a foul SMELL in this setting, given the bigoted historical discourse about Africans having a bad odour. I say this is the same spirit as allegation that Brett Murray’s “Spear” was RACIST because it resonated with white myths about the black phallus!


  • Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns from one cluster to another!

    Mike, right now you won’t find a credible commentator who still denies that the post-1994 ANC exists for one reason and one reason only and that is to divide the spoils.

  • Lisbeth


    “Mike, right now you won’t find a credible commentator who still denies that the post-1994 ANC exists for one reason and one reason only and that is to divide the spoils.”

    The eighty-two years pre-1994 were merely the planning stage.

    You know what makes South Africa a ‘Miracle Nation’? It’s that the majority of this country’s citizens have sanctioned the “division of spoils” for nineteen years now, and it will continue until the money runs out. Watch this space.

  • Mike

    Jeff Radebe product of the Stasi of East Germany.

    “When Radebe claims that the scandal shows that name-dropping in the public service had to be classified as a form of gross misconduct, he is either demonstrating a tenuous grip on logic, or he is wilfully trying to mislead the public.”

  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    May 21, 2013 at 16:04 pm


    “until the money runs out.”

    Money does not run out.

    First we can ask our friends.

    No wait our friends will not be interested if our “money runs out”.

    Let’s ask the racist West – Obama is on his way, let’s start the dialogue.

    When those racists stop, we can … PRINT MORE MONEY!!!!

    p.s. Talking about printing money, I spread a rumour that the GUPTAs are gonna replace Mandela on our new currency – it is true?

    And as a token of appreciation they are gonna let Zuma adorn the small change – those that are minted especially as tips for car guards.

    Maybe it’s just figments of my imagination – sort of like the visions CJ Mogoeng had about his discussion with the god-thing (by at least mine are still sane)!

  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC will rule until the sausage guy comes!!!
    May 21, 2013 at 15:34 pm

    Hey Brett – you and Mike are onto a good thing there.

    Perhaps both of you should go tell your g…ies!

  • Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns from one cluster to another!

    Maggot, how are the charges against Cde Godfather under the POSIA coming on?

  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    So some names are being dropped despite the directive from the Honourable Min Radebe!

    “The visit of Honourable Shivpal Singh Yadav, minister of public works and irrigation, and the delegation accompanying the minister, was an official visit, which took place at the invitation of the Free State government,”

  • beetle

    Does anyone know if the Government still continues to fund the New Age?

  • Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns from one cluster to another!

    Someone should tell AK47 that the Firearms Control Act has been abrogated by disuse:

    Gun Free SA calls for firearm licence audit

    2013-02-05 22:28

    Johannesburg – A probe into a former Gauteng police brigadier over alleged
    firearm licences corruption underlines the need for a forensic audit, Gun
    Free SA said on Tuesday.

    Spokesperson Adele Kirsten said such an audit should include all firearm
    licences issued in the past few years.

    “We have no confidence in the registry and are critical, especially over the
    last two to three years, of whether all those [who received licences]
    actually fit the criteria,” she said.

    It was reports on Tuesday that former police brigadier Stephen Choshi was
    being investigated.

    He worked for the central firearms registry until February 2011 when he was
    reportedly appointed as acting commander of the Roodepoort police station.

    He served there until his resignation.

    He allegedly continued to grant Section 21 permits for firearms while
    working in Roodepoort.

    Kirsten said it was clear there were problems in the process of issuing
    licences, which put South Africans in danger.

    “It’s clear that there are problems and what this means is that all of us,
    those who are not armed, are not safe.

    “It’s also clear that procedures are not followed… It’s a bit like a
    driver’s [licence] except this is a lethal weapon,” said Kirsten.

  • Zoo Keeper


    “Abrogated by disuse”.

    Now that is an interesting concept, although I doubt it would find judicial traction because of the divide between the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Judiciary cannot repeal legislation that is not used, it can only declare it contrary to the Constitution and refer it back.

    It is a very interesting point though, especially in light of the still existent interdict keeping green licenses valid and suspending the operation of parts of the Act – for what, 4 years now?

    Perhaps the question should be: if legislation (or part thereof) is not used/enforced (for whatever reason), is it constitutional for it to remain on the statute books?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ uhuqh tqrqsh633d

    “I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.”

    I do 50 minutes of Hatha Yoga every morning.


  • Gwebecimele

    Is the South African brain cell capable of only handling one matter at a time. Now that we are busy with Guptas less attention is given to continuing rape cases, death of initiates , pregnant schoolkids, corruption, under expenditure (R500 million)by an EC dept that did not hire teachers that are required. Who remembers Armd deal Commission.

    Our death toll of intiates in Mpumalanga is higher than the recent US tornado/hurricane tradegy.

  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele

    Who remembers “Sunday Booze legislation” meant for the poor in Gauteng? Its gone.

  • Gwebecimele

    Is this protection of cadre deployment???

    Pearson Overseas Holdings, which no longer has any financial stake in the media company BDFM, retains the majority say over the hiring and firing of editors at key financial publications as well as in the mediation of disputes at the South African operation

  • Gwebecimele
  • Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns from one cluster to another!

    This is all so disappointing. The ANC (Party) has had their hands on the Cluster Report for days.

    You progressives are acting like Cecil Rhodes just chucked a handful of coins into the dust for you to scrabble over like Ma se kapokkies.

  • Chris

    Now who could “Number One” be?

  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    May 22, 2013 at 18:41 pm

    “Now who could “Number One” be?”



  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC saved us from UNCHRISTIAN apartheid!
    May 21, 2013 at 21:09 pm

    Hey Mr Brett,

    You’re quoting Gun Free SA at last.

    Well done on coming around, dude.

    Now if we can get Dmwangi to come out of the bathroom …

  • Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns from one cluster to another!

    I’ve even been known to quote YOU, Your Imperial Silliness….

  • Maggs Naidu – Guptagate: The devil’s in the details! (

    Brett Nortje – It is true: The ANC turns water into WINE!
    May 22, 2013 at 19:39 pm

    Hey Brett,

    What is your bra smoking?

    Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis said on Wednesday