In The Darkness

In The Darkness

Britain’s House of Lords isn’t normally a cauldron for news. Scheduled tea breaks would likely prevail over debate of the imminent apocalypse of an asteroid racing towards Westminster. But Wednesday Lord Peter Hain managed to step onto the world stage to – with not quite these words – warn America of what has just happened in South Africa.

I’ve often connected South Africa and former President Zuma, with America and former President Trump. Well, move Mitt Romney into the mix, now. Something’s very depressing about all of this.

This week the four-year investigation of former South African President Jacob Zuma issued its second report. To say it’s a bombshell is an understatement. The nearly 900 pages prepared by the country’s top judge, Raymond Zondo, explain in excruciating detail how the former president and his cronies stole about a fifth of the country’s GDP!

Eh, that’s not exactly the kind of offensive news the rich and powerful Lords of the Realm relish discussing. After all, their wealth is rarely earned through hard work, either.

The reason Lord Hain got so riled up Thursday was because of Report 2’s multiple allegations against a congress of global professionals, financiers, banks and accountants that so beautifully restructured South Africa’s IRS and facilitated such clever money laundering that such an enormous amount of wealth could be slunk out of the country.

OMG if they did it to a country, just imagine what they could do to the Queen!

About three-quarters of a billion dollars in just a few years. Right under the noses of the citizenry.

In other words dumb-ass Jacob Zuma was not the magician or imposter hiding a Machiavellian mendacity many of us believed until these reports were released. No, he was just as he appeared, a nincompoop exploited by the world’s masters at making money. Take heed you Lords of Eton!

There’s quite a list of participants in this global conspiracy to steal from South Africans. Big banks like HSBC, Chartered and Baroda; global consultants like McKinsey and Hogan Lovells, but the one Lord Hain is most upset about is … Bain.

Remember, Bain Capital? Mitt Romney?

Now the connection with Romney over time is either tenuous or tenacious depending upon your political views. Romney was probably several years separated from the original Bain when the theft from South Africa was going on. When all that happened, Romney was managing a giant hedge fund from the money he had already made at Bain.

But there’s a remarkably precocious presidential candidate back in 2011 who seemed to understand that Bain wasn’t for the working man:

Romney “didn’t create any jobs” Trump complained to Business Insider. “He was a hedge fund. He was a funds guy.”

Wonder where the funds came from?

“Bain brazenly assisted former president Jacob Zuma to organise his decade of shameless looting and corruption, the company earning fees estimated at £100-million,“ ranted Lord Hain in the hallow halls of the higher-ups.

“Bain South Africa’s work was endorsed by both its London office and its US headquarters in Boston,” Lord Hain insists.

“I am asking that the UK Government and the US government immediately suspend all public sector contracts with Bain,” the Lord demands.

Better late than never, I guess.

The nexus of immorality weaves our lousy world together almost randomly. The Zondo Commission Report actually decouples a bit the era of Trump in America from the era of Zuma in South Africa I have so often written about.

Not that I think Trump is all that smarter than Zuma, but I have to concede that America right now seems overall a bit smarter than South Africa … or at least more impervious to the type of blatant corruption Zondo details. So in the end – I hope – Trump will have done less harm to America than Zuma has done to South Africa.

But as the Lord reminds us, the faces on the statutes were bevelled by potters not historians: the money counters and lenders, the Oceans 11 and 12, the Bains. The Romneys. The Trumps. They’re all twisted together deep down inside the darkness of earth.

(Bloomberg reported a month ago that Bain denied the allegations that were just released against it this week. Preemptive? Prepared? Or do money makers also make time?)