Mandy’s Matrix: Shouldn’t we tell Shiceka’s tale?

2012-05-04 07:22

The death of former minister Sicelo Shiceka was met with the usual flurry of sentiment we expect from the ruling elite who all dug deep in the archives of our recent history to find good things to say about the former minister of co-operative governance.

A colleague even called me with a “Mandy, he wasn’t all bad, was he? Help me think of good things about him,” and I dutifully helped out with his achievements as a provincial minister in Gauteng, where he was - both in government and in the ruling party - popular and successful.

But sadly, Shiceka has become the embodiment of what happens when you reach the top rung of the ladder you’ve been climbing your whole life.

His is a classic tale of how power corrupts and those in the know stand by and watch.

Shiceka’s story should serve as a warning to the ANC as well as South Africans, because I don’t believe corruption is limited to the ruling party.

The electoral gains the DA is making will undoubtedly lead to party members and officials facing similar problems the ANC is now.

Shiceka became an embarrassment to the ANC, not just because of what he had done, but the arrogance with which he dealt with the allegations against him.

He insisted a sangoma who travelled with him was a “father figure” and therefore deserved five-star accommodation. He scoffed at reports of his visit to a jailed girlfriend in Switzerland, at the taxpayers’ expense.

The ANC kept quiet about it all, claiming behind the scenes Shiceka was gravely ill and insisting that you don’t hit a man when he’s down.
So it was only when the Public Protector report found him to be guilty of misspending public money that he got the boot.

Shiceka’s tale is not a new one. Arrogance led former police chief Jackie Selebi to believe he would never spend a day in jail.

Who can forget former ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama’s “I didn’t struggle to be poor”?

Or more recently, former police chief Bheki Cele inviting a newspaper editor to his police headquarters on a certain date, confident he would still be there at the time of the meeting?

Or former minister Siphiwe Nyanda telling reporters who noted his fancy state-sponsored cars that his private car was actually an even more expensive one?

Did you note how all their titles start with “former”?

But with Shiceka we are now caught in the labyrinth of not speaking ill of the dead on the one hand, and not speaking at all on the other.

Is it not a time to talk about a great man with potential to do great things taking the wrong fork in the road?

Should the youngsters (and, frankly, the older guard) in the ANC not be told Shiceka’s story together with the illustrious ones of slain SACP stalwart Chris Hani and former ANC president Oliver Tambo?

Because what is the point of only learning about the good, if the bad is becoming so prevalent, and in fact more dangerous?

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