Columns 27.5.2017 06:15 am

SA’s Walter Mitty triumphs

Ryan Sean Davy.

Ryan Sean Davy.

Davy has one quality that I thought had completely disappeared from the SA gene pool: a willingness to take personal responsibility for what he has done.

South African climber Ryan Davy’s assault on Mount Everest is set to garner him a slew of media awards. Unfortunately for him, they will all be mocking accolades of the Mampara of the Week, Poepol of the Week variety.

Davy, who could not afford the $11 000 (about R142 000) it costs to get a climbing permit for the world’s highest mountain, concluded that the only way to realise his dream was to do it “under the radar”, as he put it in a radio interview.

So he hopped on a plane to Nepal and secretly started climbing solo.

The authorities set off in pursuit and arrested him in a small cave, just past Everest base camp, at an altitude of around 7 300 metres.

It is clear from his reckless behaviour that Davy is a wild risk-taker, with the stereotypical macho South African male’s obliviousness to the likely consequences of his actions. Yet, I’ve got to admit, I have a sneaking admiration for Davy.

He has one quality that I thought had completely disappeared from the SA gene pool: a willingness to take personal responsibility for what he has done.

Davy will plead guilty and it is likely that he will have a choice between a $22,000 fine or a four-year jail sentence.

Davy – a struggling film-maker when he is not indulging Walter Mitty fantasies of being Sir Edmund Hillary – doesn’t have that kind of money.

He did not beg, plead, or look for excuses.

He said he blamed no one but himself for his foolishness.

What a breath of fresh air this is, in contrast to the hypocritical halitosis that emanates from the typical local politician and government official.

Take Brian Molefe, a man widely lauded for his business acumen, his leadership abilities, and even his supposed high ethical standards.

As head of Eskom, Molefe was last year implicated by the public protector in the controversial Gupta clan’s attempts at state capture.

After tearful initial attempts at denial, Molefe publicly resigned.

His exact words were: “I have, in the interests of good corporate governance, decided to leave my employ at Eskom from January 1, 2017.”

Molefe was then hurriedly given an ANC parliamentary seat.

It was rumoured that this was done so that President Jacob Zuma could have a suitable replacement for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan was fired. Molefe didn’t get the job. The consolation prize was to be a R30m pension payout from Eskom. But when a public out

cry forced the blocking of the payout, it was back to the drawing board. The solution was, on the face of it, elegantly simple.

Molefe would return to Eskom as CEO, on the basis that he hadn’t resigned after all. He had merely taken early retirement, now rescinded.

Or, an alternative excuse, hurriedly filed in court papers, he had neither resigned nor retired, but had taken leave of absence.

This is even more problematic, for it means that Molefe broke the law that forbids anyone from simultaneously being an MP and state employee.

Molefe is still ducking and diving. No skaam. In contrast, Davy, though he is hapless, even hopeless, at least has personal integrity.

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