As a Brics scene-stealer, it was hard to beat the offstage and out-of-the-sky antics of Pretoria’s absent friend, Vladimir Putin.

Apparently on Wednesday a plane crash in Russia killed Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, once known as “Putin’s chef”. His death exactly two months after his short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin proves anew the adage that revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

Given the disappearance rate of Putin’s foes, usually via novochok or a fall from a high building, you don’t need to be a conspiracist to join the dots. But on the internet and the far-right channels of Telegram, speculation raged that Prigozhin had staged the crash to fake his own death.

The irony of the debate on the circumstances of the crash is that it was Prigozhin’s organisation that created troll farms to influence the outcome of the 2016 US election. You might recall their invention of a global conspiracy headed by Hillary Clinton that was trafficking children from a basement in Washington DC below a pizza store.

The current source of much conspiracy mongering is “QAnon”. According to David Aaronovich, writing in the Financial Times, “Q” is a security insider in the bowels of the deep state who heroically compiles “compendious, almost rococo” conspiracy theories involving “the Clintons, the Bidens and just about anyone else they [the QAnon crowd] don’t like”.

The pandemic and vaccinations provided fertile ground for conspirators. From the Democratic corner, Robert F Kennedy Jnr — now a presidential contender against Biden — offered his own wacky theories. His best-selling book (1.1-million copies to date) is entitled The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health.

It cooks up a worldwide conspiracy hatched by US federal officials such as Fauci in league with big money globalists, with hapless, ordinary folk the victims of evil deep-state machinations.

Back here, seeing South Africa as controlled by a quintet of Afrikaner billionaires from Stellenbosch has been a constant theme of the RET/Zuma/EFF brigades for at least a decade. Always have an ultra-rich, preferably white, elite as the foil for your world view.

But a more surprising entrant into the conspiracy stakes emerged recently from the opposition corner — the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP).

It was a surprising absentee from the coalition talks last week that birthed the “multiparty charter”. The ACDP might be tiny but if forming a government in 2024 hinges on an array of smaller parties, it should be in the mix.

When I asked one of the organisers of the charter event to explain the ACDP’s absence, he forwarded a WhatsApp message that  read in part: “DA moonshot pact is the brainchild of George Soros and Oppenheimer Family this is why William Gumede was selected as its Chairperson. William Gumede is the Founder of Democracy Works Foundation funded by George Soros … we are already aware of the Oppenheimers’ Brenthurst Foundation which paid for John Steenhuisen’s trip to Ukraine, and we know the Oppenheimer’s funded both the DA and ANC.”

It goes on at length, drawing unrelated facts together to spin a web of intrigue and manipulation about a vast new-world-order attempt to control lives in pursuit of “a globalist agenda”.

ACDP deputy leader Wayne  Thring told Hanlie Retief in Rapport that “the World Economic Forum is part of a new world order … a group of powerful, unelected leaders who want to dominate the world with one government”.

While the ACDP stands against such terrible evils, the death last week of the former chair of the Oppenheimer-founded Anglo American empire, Julian Ogilvie Thompson, was a reminder that the “evil empire” was remarkably ecumenical in its views and targets.

At the Thabo Mbeki presidential inauguration in June 1999, Ogilvie Thompson — who, along with Anglo, were generous benefactors of the DA and its predecessors — was very displeased with me.

Waving a cocktail sausage with some menace, he told me off for “going to bed with people who have political Aids”. He was referring to the recent decision of the Democratic Party, which I then led, to install a New National Party and Democratic Party coalition government in the Western Cape and exclude the ANC.

“I have a good mind to turn off the taps to your party,” the great man thundered.

He did not and the government, absent the ANC, was duly installed. But the conspiracy of shadowy elites controlling events and the world and manipulating politicians is hard to beat or to dispel with tiresome facts.