Life is Not Fair

This weekend Dianne Kohler Barnard must be rueing the fact that she retweeted a post by Paul Kirk. During the same week, Pravin Gordhan the ex-Finance Minister was accused of being aware that a rogue intelligence unit was operating within SARS during his tenure. This week also saw Riah Phiyega being lambasted after the release of the annual crime statistics. What about the Hitachi imbroglio? Of these which will generate the most controversy?

Today Pravin Gordhan is a senior figure within the ANC government serving as Minister of Cooperative Governance. His tenure as head of SARS can be characterised as highly successful. Unlike similar government departments after 1994, it flourished becoming more effective whereas the rest degenerated into incompetence as ANC cadres were deployed into them. The level of compliance steadily increased as their systems and procedures were streamlined and improved.

Main picture: Dianne Kohler Barnard

Even Pravin’s tenure as Finance Minister can be classified as highly successful. Then Pravin’s replacement at SARS, Ivan Pillay, was accused of operating a rogue intelligence unit. It is now alleged that his unit was established during Pravin’s tenure. Ironically about 15 years ago I heard rumours that a senior person, an Indian, was involved in “intelligence activities” at SARS. As a member of ANC intelligence unit during the Apartheid era, this became his modus operandi on his appointment to SARS.

Is this co-incidental? I think not.
Ivan Pillay

What I am unable to confirm is whether the ANC Intelligence Operative and Ivan Pillay are one and same person, but it possibly is. The point that I am making is not whether Pravin Gordhan was complicit in setting up this illegal unit but the consequences. As might have been predicted, there will be none. On the scale of 1 to 10 of how serious this action is, I contend that it is at least 9. Even if Pravin Gordhan is found to be culpable what will be the consequences be for him?

The net effect that he might even be promoted. Let us take the recent Guptagate case. At the centre of this case was the Head of State Protocol, Bruce Koloane, in which Koloane allegedly repeated orders from Zuma in order to make the landing possible. What should have happened to Mr Koloane? He should have been fired. Instead he was given a slap on the wrist and three months later he was been appointed as the country’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

King Willem-Alexander receiving SA Ambassador Bruce Kolaone

King Willem-Alexander receiving SA Ambassador Bruce Kolaone

What was last week’s corruption expose? It emerged that the SEC in America has fined Hitachi South Africa R240 million for paying a bribe to the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House. Will anybody be prosecuted in this regard? In fact will this case even go to trial? Highly unlikely. On a scale of 1 to 10 how serious is this offence. At least a 10.

Hitachi-Logo Smaller

In this context let us examine the full text of Dianne’s offensive text. It reads as follows:

And so the new head of the Hawks – found to be without integrity and dishonest by the High Court – has suspended ace detective Johan Booysen over a typing error.

Please come back PW Botha – you were far more honest than any of these ANC rogues, and you provided far better services to the public – we had a functioning education system, functioning health system and the police did not murder miners on behalf of government toadies as they do now

Quite rightly Dianne has been pilloried in the media. Mentioning that the Apartheid ogre, PW Botha, might have run a clean and efficient administration is sacrilege. As such Dianne has already been demoted by the DA’s Leader, Mmusi Maimane to a deputy shadow minister.

Mmusi Mainmane & his wife

Mmusi Mainmane & his wife

Due to South Africa’s legacy of a racist past, especially under PW Botha who was an unrepentant racist, that means that both race and class overlap into fault lines. With the ANC having no interest in the white vote, they play the race card with gay abandon. In the process their cynical reference to themselves as a non-racial party is shallow.

For the DA, the stakes are higher. As an avowedly non-racial party and demonstration of its racial diversity by having a multi-racial leadership, being at the intersection of two societal fault lines, is precarious. At every juncture, both the EFF and ANC play the Race Card and label the DA racist.

Dianne Kohler Barnard must surely realise by now that her tweet is a heaven sent opportunity to cast the whites in the DA as recalcitrant racists.

PW Botha in his classic pose

PW Botha in his classic pose

Given its reliance on the burgeoning black middle class vote, this careless retweet by Kohler Barnard could not have come at a more inopportune time.

Given the seriousness of the offence from a political point of view, I contend that the DA has no option but to expel her from the party. Not to do so will send the wrong signal to the racist black elements in South African society.

As a political blunder it rates as a 10 out of 10. As regards Kohler Barnard’s performance as shadow Minister of Police, I would rate it as least a 9 out of 10.

What Kohler Barnard did was unforgiveable in South Africa’s political context.

More than half of Zuma’s cabinet can be rated as poor to mediocre, complicit in a series of scandals, yet their shortcomings and transgressions are ignored.


Unfortunately Mrs Kohler Barnard, you are not a member of the ANC where even the most scandalous conduct is excused. The DA adheres to a higher standard and as such your dismissal is a sine qua non – not negotiable.

Dianne, it is pointless retorting that what you did was a slip, a tiny misstep. Accept that life is not fair.

Ironically while the PW Botha administration might well have been substantially more efficient and less corrupt than the current ANC government, in the South African context that counts not a jot as Shakespeare noted in Hamlet.

PW Botha had little regard of our fellow black countrymen and if the truth be told, for English speakers as well. As such, that will be how it will be judged by the majority of South Africans including myself.

As a seasoned politician, how could you disregard this touchstone of South African politics?

Au revoir Dianne.


  1. Hi Dean

    Great story.

    The author of the post, Noseweek journalist Paul Kirk, might also come under scrutiny. Google “Paul Kirk high court judgement” to understand what he is all about.


    Brendan Els


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