Magnus Heystek
3 minute read
26 Mar 2014
8:00 am

Getting steamed up over Zuma

Magnus Heystek

I'm a lapper. Years ago I used to run; then I jogged for a while, and cycled. However, due to a hip replacement, these activities – which I loved – have now been declared out of bounds.

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: GCIS)

So now I swim. Every day, I trundle down to my local gym, don my Speedo, goggles and lycra cap, and plunge into the 25m pool with the other lappers – male and female.

Afterwards, when we’ve all finished our routines (most do 40 laps, some 60 and Chris does 80 – in the time it takes me to do my 60), we all move towards the sauna – the men’s-only one, unfortunately.

And this is where the real discussions take place – like the ancient Romans in their steam baths.

Over the past few days, our discussions were about Nkandla and President Jacob Zuma.

The outpouring of revulsion and disgust, following the findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on the Nkandla affair, is hard to describe.

It ranged from, “He’s a thief and must go to jail”, to “The ANC is corrupt from top to bottom”. Each and every one of the men in the sauna – black and white – had very strong feelings about this issue. It definitely wasn’t a whites-only thing.

One very strong feeling was that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) should get involved, and like its pursuit of the wealth of infamous tax-dodgers like Dave King, Maxim Krok, Barry Tannenbaum, Julius Malema, and many others, our tax authorities now need to step forward and investigate how the “Zuma family” managed to pay for the bulk of the Nkandla estate.

Any tax-paying citizen who suddenly starts spending on the scale that Jacob Zuma has, should have to face a lifestyle questionnaire and, in the absence of verifiable proof of income or capital gains, will be taxed and penalised according to the relevant legislation.

Precisely how much Zuma and his family have spent on his homes shouldn’t be too difficult to calculate, seeing that the Public Protector has clearly itemised each expenditure.

But it seems to be a very large amount of money – probably more than R100 million.

The issue of loans and/or donations to Zuma also needs to be investigated. Are there loan agreements in place and have donations taxes been paid?

There are so many other questions around the release of the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla that need answering. These are answers that we know, deep-down, will never be answered by the ruling elite who now have proven to the nation just how deep-seated and ingrained the corruption is among the men and women who run this country.

It is my opinion that, in time, the Nkandla affair will become a watershed for our country – a fork in the road: one path leading towards a Zimbabwe-style disintegration, a failed state, as US lawyer Allan Dershowitz described SA as being, on the Piers Morgan show on CNN; and the other, which now seems less likely, leading us back towards the highway of hope that prevailed under now-departed Nelson Mandela.

There will have to be some extraordinary development in our body politics for us to get back onto that road.

Many say that we passed that turning point a long time ago. But then my old friend, Max du Preez, seems to think that everything is hunky-dory in this country of ours.

What advice do you give to someone who, on Friday last week, walked in my office with the instruction to sell all his local investments and move it abroad?

“Alles sal regkom”?

I don’t think that qualifies as investment advice.

The stream of money rushing for the exits is threatening to turn into a raging torrent – but more about that next week.

Magnus Heystek is investment strategist at Brenthurst Wealth.