How dumb do you think we are?

South Africans are used to hearing strange excuses from their government – when a swimming pool is called a fire pool and a kraal a security feature, for example.

These excuses are often linked to mistakes or wasteful expenditure, which costs taxpayers and the country billions.

The ANC government has had to put out many fires in recent years because of these excuses. Some of the more recent issues include the R250-million Nkandla security upgrades and Prasa spending R600 million on trains which may not be suitable for local conditions.

Here are some examples in the technology space where the truth left high-profile politicians and executives with egg on their face.


Lucky Montana, Prasa CEO – defending an unqualified engineer and playing the race card

Lucky Montana
Lucky Montana

On 6 July 2015 Lucky Montana, CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), dismissed reports that its new batch of locomotives exceeded the height restrictions of local tracks.

Montana said their engineering team, headed by Daniel Mtimkulu, followed a strict design review process. He sang the praises of Mtimkulu, saying that he was sought after internationally, and that the engineering team was being undermined because the lead engineer was black.

What happened next: It emerged that Mtimkulu was not a registered engineer, and Montana was subsequently fired while Mtimkulu was suspended. Mtimkulu subsequently resigned following allegations that he falsified his qualifications, and was charged with fraud.


Rosey Sekese, Communications DG – lying to parliament

Rosey Sekese and Dina Pule
Rosey Sekese and Dina Pule

Rosey Sekese had told the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications that she had signed her performance agreement for 2012-2013.

What happened next: Deputy Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told parliament that Sekese lied about having signed her performance agreement. The Portfolio Committee on Communications later found that Sekese had misled it.


Dina Pule, former minister – misleading parliament about her relationship with her “boyfriend”

Dina Pule at DTT event
Dina Pule at DTT event

In March 2013, former Communications Minister Dina Pule rejected claims that she was romantically linked to Phosane Mngqibisa. She said: “I know him as a comrade, but I have nothing to do with him.”

What happened next: Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics found that Pule misled the panel, and that Mngqibisa was indeed her partner and benefited through his association with her. Pule was fined and suspended from parliament, and lost her job.


Siphiwe Nyanda, former minister – dismissing reports which turned out to be accurate

Siphiwe Nyanda
Siphiwe Nyanda

On 15 July 2010, former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda rejected as “false, spurious, and malicious” a report that he was planning to suspend his director-general Mamodupi Mohlala.

What happened next: One week later, the Department of Communications confirmed that its director-general Mamodupi Mohlala had been fired. In a press statement the DoC said that “it became apparent trust between Nyanda and the director-general had broken down irretrievably”.


Ellen Tshabalala, former SABC chair – made dubious claims about her qualifications

Zandile Ellen Tshabalala
Zandile Ellen Tshabalala

Former SABC chair Ellen Tshabalala claimed to have a BCom degree from the University of South Africa, and said that she would provide her qualification when the matter went to court. She also said that the certificates of her qualifications were stolen during a burglary at her home

What happened next: The University of South Africa said on 5 December 2014 that Tshabalala never completed or graduated with qualifications that she registered for with Unisa. Tshabalala later resigned, saying the controversy regarding her qualifications was taking a toll on her family.

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How dumb do you think we are?