The latest twists in the Jackie “cash cop” Selebi saga seems to reinforce the unfortunate stereotypes of crooked cops and African politics. I am sure it would be easy to to just stick our heads in the sand and say, “well who cares what the rest of the world thinks, we’ll solve our own problems.” The previous white Nationalist Government said that, and look where it got them.
On the contrary, what the rest of the world thinks about us is vitally important. It impacts on every investment, travel, recruitment and aid decision that the international community makes in relation to South Africa.
I am really afraid that the Zuma and Selebi cases are going to feed the perceptions of the international community to such an extent, that when you hear the word, Nigerian, you think of “drug dealer“, and when you hear South African, the word “corruption” immediately springs to mind. This is really sad, and a kick in the face of all those who worked so hard to bring about a peaceful transition in this country.
One of the most damning claims in the indictment against Selebi, is that he received funds from a known crook, to wine and dine Interpol officials and lobby for his appointment as head of the organisation. That he resigned this weekend as head of Interpol (The Times) is good, but then the idiot at the same time swears his innocence. If he is innocent, then why resign?
The South African taxpayer, as usual, is picking up the tab for his salary while he goes on extended leave prior to his court case.
So what has gone wrong? Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 said,
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.“
I think that a major contributing factor in this disgrace, is the absolute majority that the ANC party enjoys in this country. Despite the best efforts of the DA, they are perceived by the ruling party as toothless little dogs yapping at everything in sight. What we need in this country is a government that serves first and foremost, the people, and not a small elite. We also, more importantly, need a strong opposition with a considerable percentage of support.
If the ANC where a company, would they be able to act as they do? Certainly not. Laws in this country, and in fact in most countries, prevent a company from abusing it’s dominant position in the market. Not too long ago the mighty Microsoft was forced to split itself up into smaller business units, because it was abusing it’s dominant position. I believe that the same should apply in politics. The recent tiff between the Mbeki and Zuma camps may however, achieve this without any outside intervention.
The other major factor is GREED. The general perception in this country is that we are “entitled” to things. Hard work is not a prerequisite for success. Riches are ours for the taking. Who we know, and how we nurture these relationships, are the key to success. Is this a new phenomenon? Certainly not, but we are certainly fine-tuning the art.
Let’s give these crooks their day in court, and then lock them away for a considerable time to punish them, but more importantly to send a clear message to the local and international community that we do not tolerate corruption, not at any level.