Fight tigers and smash flies

CityPress - - Voices -

Ear­lier this week this lowly news­pa­per­man spent time read­ing through the ANC’s na­tional gen­eral coun­cil dis­cus­sion doc­u­ments.

As usual, some sec­tions are very in­ter­est­ing, in­for­ma­tive and bru­tally hon­est, while oth­ers are down­right ba­nal and para­noid. Qual­ity or lack thereof aside, the ANC is to be com­mended for keep­ing to the tra­di­tion of be­ing trans­par­ent about shar­ing its in­ter­nal pains with South Africa.

The Bal­ance of Forces doc­u­ment is par­tic­u­larly re­fresh­ing, as it out­lines in bru­tally hon­est fash­ion the party’s in­ter­nal tribu­la­tions, and its gov­er­nance chal­lenges. It is can­did about cor­rup­tion, mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and in­ter­nal rot.

The doc­u­ment has a sec­tion that deals with “the le­git­i­macy of the polity and the state”. It talks about how “clear in­tent and se­ri­ous ac­tion” in deal­ing with what’s wrong gives “con­fi­dence to so­ci­ety about the eth­i­cal foun­da­tions of the state”.

“How­ever, when there is repet­i­tive poor man­age­ment of al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and pa­tron­age within high lead­er­ship ech­e­lons, the le­git­i­macy of the state and the polity as such is un­der­mined,” it says.

It con­tin­ues: “In­deed, over the past few years, a gen­eral im­pres­sion of sys­temic cor­rup­tion has been cre­ated, rang­ing from un­savoury de­vel­op­ments in state-owned en­ter­prises to strange machi­na­tions within se­cu­rity and tax author­i­ties and un­con­vinc­ing re­sponses to ad­mo­ni­tions for ac­count­abil­ity by rel­e­vant con­sti­tu­tional bod­ies.”

I safely as­sumed that these “un­con­vinc­ing re­sponses” in­cluded the ANC’s dis­missal of rul­ings by the Public Pro­tec­tor.

How shock­ing, then, when I tuned into the hap­pen­ings in Par­lia­ment and watched this very same party adopt­ing Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko’s sham­bolic re­port on the R246 mil­lion cor­rup­tion mon­u­ment. It was rather dis­con­cert­ing watch­ing one Mamoloko Kubayi – who used to have good brains be­fore the Mar­tians crept into her bed­room and sucked them out – com­plete her tran­si­tion from ac­tivist to a si­wengu, mind­less mem­ber of the mob. (By the way, there is noth­ing in­trin­si­cally wrong with be­ing a si­wengu, so long as you are an Or­lando Pi­rates one).

Then there was the bit in the Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion doc­u­ment about the gov­er­nance of paras­tatals in which the party em­pha­sises its strate­gic role in plan­ning and driv­ing growth. It out­lines the ur­gent need to get state-owned en­ter­prises to be ef­fec­tive. It says, among other things, that these en­ti­ties need “clear roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for boards and ex­ec­u­tives” and the gov­ern­ment has “to ap­point com­pe­tent board mem­bers and ex­ec­u­tives”.

At this point I won­dered about the Marie An­toinette of SAA, the Weskop­pies es­capee who runs the SABC and many other de­ploy­ees who have been ap­pointed against all rea­son.

I scoured the Peace and Sta­bil­ity doc­u­ment hop­ing for de­ci­sive­ness on restor­ing peace and sta­bil­ity to the po­lice and pros­e­cu­tion ser­vices.

In­stead, the doc­u­ment tells us “the po­lice ser­vice is a well-re­sourced pro­fes­sional in­sti­tu­tion staffed by highly skilled of­fi­cers who value their work, serve the com­mu­nity, safe­guard lives and prop­erty with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion, and pro­tect the peace­ful against vi­o­lence and re­spect the rights of all to equal­ity and jus­tice”.

Ig­nor­ing the spike in crime over the past two years, it notes “sta­tis­tics re­leased by the po­lice for the pe­riod 2008/09 to De­cem­ber 2013 in­di­cate a con­tin­ued gen­eral de­crease in se­ri­ous crime”.

In search of light re­lief, I turned to the everde­pend­able SA Com­mu­nist Party. They did not dis­ap­point. In a col­umn ti­tled: “What we can learn from the Chi­nese fight against cor­rup­tion”, party spokesper­son Alex Mashilo wrote about fight­ing tigers, smash­ing flies, hunt­ing foxes and up­grad­ing to Skynet. The tigers he writes about are cor­rupt high-rank­ing gov­ern­ment and Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party of­fi­cials and pri­vate sec­tor ac­com­plices, the flies are mid-level ones and the foxes are those sus­pects who flee abroad to evade jus­tice. Skynet, Mashilo ex­plains, is the hi-tech search for the foxes, which some­times ex­tends to space.

Mashilo writes about how China’s Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion proac­tively pounces on those sus­pected of vi­o­lat­ing “party dis­ci­pline” – in this case cor­rup­tion.

“The com­mis­sion does not wait for al­le­ga­tions to con­duct its work. At any time, any of­fi­cial can be in­spected for ad­her­ence to dis­ci­pline.”

Stat­ing that party dis­ci­pline is “stricter than the law” Mashilo ap­prov­ingly writes about a Chi­nese man who hanged him­self in his of­fice ear­lier this month while un­der “dis­ci­pline in­ves­ti­ga­tion”.

Then he cuts to the nub: “What can pro­gres­sive left po­lit­i­cal move­ments and gov­ern­ments learn from all this? There is no doubt that we need our own ‘fight­ing tigers, smash­ing flies and hunt­ing foxes’ in South Africa.”

He also ex­presses no doubt that his party could be con­sis­tent about its com­mit­ment to fight­ing cor­rup­tion, no mat­ter how high the “tiger” sits.

But then, we live in a world and a time of great con­tra­dic­tions.

Mondli Makhanya voices@ city­press. co. za

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