Politicians’ hyena talk is a big laugh

2010-10-02 10:27

By using the term “hyena state” to describe the descent into corruption and corruptibility, politicians are giving an undeserving animal a bad rap.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi should spend more time in the bush observing hyenas.

Vavi first coined the term when he ­likened “tenderpreneurs” to hyena clan leaders who ate first, forgetting about the rest.

This week, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said Vavi should be disciplined for his ­hyena talk.

He was pointing to an apposite pattern where politicians were increasingly choosing public life not to offer their services, but for access to resources and as a get-rich-quick scheme.

But he chose incorrectly when he used the ­hyena as a metaphor.

The matriarchal hyenas are highly intelligent and ­socialised animals.

In their hierarchical systems the youngest ­female can dominate the most senior male, but the predators reveal highly complex social forms of organisation.

They care for their young and live and hunt in supportive groups.

Like the human species, hyenas have big brains.

They appear to put it to better use than us, though.

And it appears, too, that a tenderpreneur is a ­tenderpreneur and not a hyena.

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