Business Day

Tech­nocrats to blame

- Kola Jo­laolu Cape Town

SIR — It was Paul Keat­ing, the 24th prime min­is­ter of Aus­tralia, who said: “Politi­cians come in three va­ri­eties: straight men, fix­ers and mad­dies”. We should be­lieve him. Politi­cians come in dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties in­deed.

Those who will or­di­nar­ily heed Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng’s ad­vice not to do as they please are prob­a­bly the straight men and, to a lesser de­gree, the fix­ers. The mad­dies are the ones John F Kennedy was re­fer­ring to when he said: “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be pres­i­dent, but they don’t want them to be­come politi­cians in the process.” Of course, he meant a pres­i­dent who un­der­stands the level of in­tegrity and sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity re­quired and ex­pected of him or her. His ref­er­ence to politi­cians meant ma­raud­ers.

Per­haps, the politi­cians are not to blame. We ought to look at the tech­nocrats who are sup­posed to be nudg­ing them to do the right thing. Politi­cians by their na­ture are mostly mad­dies. That is why they should have a solid team of tech­nocrats keep­ing them on the straight and nar­row.

Un­for­tu­nately, we seem to have a rather as­ton­ish­ing dis­pen­sa­tion in SA, where tech­nocrats no longer give the right ad­vice and en­sure the politi­cians do the right thing. The tech­nocrats are not true tech­nocrats any­more, they are po­lit­i­cal de­ploy­ees. And so, we have a cock­tail of politi­cians run­ning things to the ground.

Know­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween a thin blue line and a thick blue line takes a cer­tain kind of sen­si­tiv­ity politi­cians gen­er­ally lack. All they see are blue lines.

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