Bob’s wee prob­lem of im­par­tial­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

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.

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