At the start of his extraordinary new book, the South African investigative journalist Jacques Pauw recalls how a newspaper columnist once wrote that “if journalists were the “nagkardrywers” (sewerage car drivers) of society, I’m grubbier than any of them”. Nearly three decades ago, Pauw drove deep into the sewers of the South African state to expose apartheid death squads. Now he has made a return journey to investigate “an orgy of depravity and venality”. All who care for the future of SA should be grateful. The President’s Keepers reads, at times, like a gonzo thriller, ranging from encounters with an exiled agent in Moscow to assignations in Pretoria cafés and bars, and farms on the surrounding highveld. But it is much, much more than that. With its detailed exposé of cronyism and corruption at the heart of President Jacob Zuma’s government, it is one of the consequential books on SA since the end of white rule. In a just world, Pauw’s revelations would affect this weekend’s lea...

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