Columns 1.10.2016 05:05 am

‘Our reviled former colonial masters can teach us a thing or two’

President Jacob Zuma: Pic: DoC

President Jacob Zuma: Pic: DoC

For either President Jacob Zuma or Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane to resign would be alien behaviour.

How galling to concede that our reviled former colonial masters can still teach us a thing or two. Specifically, about taking responsibility for one’s actions and acting with honour.

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A couple of months back, Prime Minister David Cameron lost the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. He promptly resigned.

This week, Sam Allardyce, the manager of the England football team, was caught in a newspaper sting. Allardyce was tape-recorded mocking his predecessor’s speech impediment and stating the obvious — that the Football Association’s “ridiculous” rules on transfers are easily circumvented.

This was a “significant error of judgment”, Allardyce admitted. He apologised and resigned. Compare this to our local soapie, starring the narcissistic and widely despised Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former chief operating officer (COO) of the SABC. This is a man who has clung to his job like a barnacle, despite a ceaseless four-year torrent of administrative, disciplinary and judicial findings that decreed he should not be in the job.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected with costs Motsoeneng’s attempt to appeal the 2015 Western Cape High Court ruling that had set aside as “irrational” his appointment as COO. The SABC board — as supine a collection of ANC toadies as you can imagine – promptly tried to circumvent the decision by appointing Motsoeneng to a different position.

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The ANC purports to be outraged by this flagrant disregard of the spirit, if not the letter, of the judgment. The decision to reappoint Motsoeneng, says ANC parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu, is unlawful, a violation of sequential court rulings. Mthembu then waxes splenetic about Motsoeneng’s latest appointment being the “the last straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

However, on this issue the ANC is less of a camel than it is a jackal. After all, this is the same ANC that appointed these SABC lackeys. And, after all, this is the same ANC whose Communication Minister Faith Muthambi repeatedly has said that she has full faith in the SABC board and in Motsoeneng.

Politically, it’s all really simple. The precedents are ancient. The minister should fire the SABC board, which is clearly not fit for its purpose. And if the minister won’t fire the board, then President Jacob Zuma should fire her. But this charade of one arm of the ANC slapping the wrist of the other is nothing new.

It is symptomatic of the increasingly schizophrenic state of a political organisation that is adrift. Evidence of this rudderless, ethically bereft state is provided by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s written reply this week to a parliamentary question.

Zwane reiterated that he had not been speaking in his personal capacity when three weeks ago he announced that the Cabinet had agreed to recommend that Zuma appoint a judicial inquiry to probe whether the banks had acted unfairly against the president’s cronies, the Gupta clan.

This is in direct contradiction to what Zuma said. So, who is being untruthful? If Zwane is a serial liar – first when he issued the statement and now in Parliament – he should not only be fired as minister but as an MP. If the president is the one who is the liar, then he is of course the one honour-bound to resign.

Unfortunately, honour appears to be a colonial construct. For either man to resign would be alien behaviour. Well, alien to the ANC, if not to those imperialist relics Cameron and Allardyce.

 

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