Bob’s wee problem of impartiality
COULD there be a more peculiar occupation than “whizzer caddy”? Here at the Mahogany Ridge, we’d never heard of such a thing until revelations this week that the boxer Mike Tyson used a fake penis to fool dope testers.
In his forthcoming memoir, Undisputed Truth, Tyson reveals that one of his flunkies carried the device and ensured it was filled with “clean urine”.
Movie buffs will recall that Richard E Grant’s character used something similar in the 1987 comedy Withnail & I. But Tyson claims – and who’d argue otherwise? – that he came up with the whizzer himself before a clash with Lou Savarese in June 2000.
He was, he admits, a “full-blown coke-head” who would hoover up a mess of the stuff before a fight. Which is silly. As a performance-enhancing drug, cocaine is rubbish – unless, of course, Tyson had wanted to bore his opponents into submission with manic, narcissistic prattle about the women he was sleeping with or the price tag of a new luxury car.
As for toting a chap’s stunt whizzer, well, it is a position that required a certain deftness. Tyson’s man, for example, was found somewhat lacking when it came to slipping him the stand-in after beating Andrew Golota in October 2000. Tyson had no choice but to produce his own pee – always difficult when others are watching. Alas, it tested positive for marijuana and he was fined $200 000 and his victory over Golota was overturned in a no-contest ruling.
Which brings us to Robert McBride, whose nomination by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for the position of executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has drawn predictable howls of outrage.
Support for McBride came from the usual quarters. The leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, Marius Fransman, and Kebby Maphatsoe, the chairman of the Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, for example, have painted a picture of a revolutionary whose whizz was never found to be contaminated with anything other than a burning zeal to do the right thing.
Fransman, in particular, appeared in need of a cold shower after his enamoured defence.
“McBride has served every deployment prior to 1994 with distinction, and post 1994 he has proven his mettle as a disciplined, devoted and committed servant of the people of South Africa,” he gushed.
“We therefore unreservedly welcome his appointment and watch with eagerness as he brings his unique skills set to bear on this important organ of civilian policing oversight.”
Before we deal with skills bearing on organs, some perspective is needed. Writing in the Cape Times yesterday, Tony Weaver asked why McBride is “the man white South Africa loves to hate more than any other”.
Then he answered the question for us. The outrage, he noted, stemmed from four incidents.
One of these was the altercation he had with gangster Cyril Beeka at a city escort agency in 1999. Another was his arrest and five-month detention for alleged gun-running in Mozambique. A third was the drunk driving matter following a Christmas party in 2006 when he was Ekurhuleni metro police chief.
The fourth, of course, was the bombing of Magoo’s and the Why Not bar on Durban’s beachfront in June, 1986, in which three people died and 69 others were wounded. McBride spent five years on death row until he was pardoned.
The first three matters were apparently inconsequential. As Weaver argued, the Beeka business never went to court, the gun-running charges were dropped, and McBride’s convictions for drunken driving and obstructing justice were overturned on appeal.
Which leaves the messy bombing business. Weaver claimed here that McBride, who selected the target, was operating under a chain of command that seemed to stretch all the way to Joe Slovo and Oliver Tambo. Following orders, you know. Never easy.
All of which has little bearing on why McBride shouldn’t get the Ipid job. As Fransman and others have pointed out, he is a loyal ANC cadre – and that alone should disqualify him, according to the Institute for Accountability’s Paul Hoffman.
The Constitutional Court, Hoffman has noted, has ruled that any anti-corruption crime-fighting body had to be independent from political influence. “He (McBride) is known as being loyal to the ANC and it would be difficult for him to act independently when issues arise,” Hoffman said. “There would be a conflict of interest between his loyalty to the ANC and the requirements of the post.”
Sorry to whizz on Bobby’s batteries, but it really is as simple as that.