Is Jordan such an intellect?

2014-08-19 00:00

SOUTH Africa is a country of secrets and lies. Tony Leon’s book, The Accidental Ambassador, speaks at length about the dark side of Argentina, drawing parallels with South Africa’s dark side.

Just as menacing as the pre-1994 apartheid era was, so it continues seamlessly into the new political dispensation under the ANC — Marikana, Guptagate, Nkandla, Andries Tatane, Anene Booysen, endemic corruption and hundreds of botched circumcisions.

All these things conjure up aspects of the belly of the beast that have exposed the Rainbow Nation metaphor for the farce that it is.

Emblazoned across the world’s stage, some of these events have given the world a peep into the political morass we inhabit.

This morass, often accompanied by personal dramas that envelop the lives of prominent public figures, is sometimes shrouded in major cover-ups because to expose them is to unmask the underbelly of this so-called magnificent liberation.

Even our heroes are tarnished, but their dark sides are hushed up and reluctantly talked about, lest we give fodder to our enemies.

And the media has not been lazy to be party to this game of peddling “lies” about public figures, especially when they know they have been party to embellishing their reputations despite clouds of hubris.

That is what the response to Gareth van Onselen’s courageous exposé of Pallo Jordan’s fraudulent qualifications revealed.

Steven Friedman, Mary Metcalfe and like-minded tweeters argue that although Jordan lied about his degrees, it does not detract from his formidable intellect.

Die Burger , too, fell into this trap with its deeply disappointing editorial on August 6 — Jammer dat Jordan leuen nodig geag het [It’s a pity Jordan felt that it was necessary to lie.]

Duplicitous in every way, it argues that the lack of qualifications had nothing to do with his competence as a minister or his intellect.

Based on no evidence whatsoever, the article perpetuates this myth that has no foundation in reality.

“Deur die jare het Jordan hom as een van die beste intellektuele in die ANC bewys. Sy politieke bydraes ... het dikwels bo dié van sy kollegas in die party uitgetroon, en sy kennis en insig in die geskiedenis was — en is — groot.” [Over the years, Jordan has shown himself to be one of the leading intellectuals in the ANC. His political contributions … far surpassed those of his colleagues in the party, and his knowledge of and insight into history was — and is — phenomenal.]

While the paper reluctantly condemns his lies, it makes excuses for them. The messages it transmits are as unethical as they are fictitious.

To lie about one’s qualifications is not only morally indefensible, it also diminishes the vast amount of work that goes into reading for a doctorate.

Secondly, just because the ANC, Metcalfe and Friedman think Jordan is a great intellectual, that does not make him one.

Having heard Jordan on many a platform, not least his acceptance speech at UCT upon receiving an award in honour of his deceased father, A.C. Jordan, I remember vividly how Jordan droned on and on, enraging everyone in the audience, not least the chancellor.

It was more than an hour of drivel, contrary to what one expects from an intellectual. But faced with minimal competition in his party, Jordan’s status as an intellectual is highly debatable.

Those who excuse Jordan’s lies are sending messages to our children that it is okay to cheat.

That Professor Friedman and educationist Metcalfe, who not only was MEC for Education, but who for most of her life was a teacher, a school principal and dean of education, do so is regrettable and highly irresponsible.

As for Jordan, his lies will have him etched into the history of frauds with the likes of that wretched SABC COO — Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

• Rhoda Kadalie is the founder of the Gender Equity Unit and an executive director of Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust.

• This article first appeared in Die Burger.

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