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We are already sheep on the farm

15 June 2012, 15:09

Sheep do not think for themselves. They just follow whatever direction the herd has taken.  Human beings are prone to behave in the same way. History is replete with examples. The educated German people allowed the 3rd Reich to lead them down a path of mindless destruction. 

In his iconic novel, Animal Farm, George Orwell brilliantly parodies a revolutionary context in which leaders behave like pigs, with their snouts in the trough of power and self indulgence, because followers behave like mindless sheep. 

South Africa has just witnessed the installation of a new Police Commissioner. There is absolutely no dispute that, although she is a perfectly good human being, she has absolutely no qualifications and/or experience that are relevant to the highly specialized profession of policing. In particular she has never received any police training that others are rigorously subjected to in police academies. Neither does she have any relevant academic qualification such as criminology. 

So how did she get the job? Why was she favoured with appointment to such a critically important post? Why were dozens of career officers discriminated against and denied even a chance to compete for the post? 

It is simple. The President exercised a Constitutional right he has to do so. However, in doing so, he trampled over another Constitutional right with reckless abandon. This is the right to equality. It is a most sacred right, that insists that every citizen is equal under the law as a fundamental imperative. That is why Lady Justice holds up her scales in which she keeps all rights (and human beings) in equal balance. 

The office of Police Commissioner is a public office, funded by the general public including, in particular, the current crop of police chiefs who have spent years conscientiously working to earn the right to lead others in the force. In law, a right now known as “a legitimate expectation” accrued to all of them, that they are entitled to compete for any higher post as equals, in a fair and transparent process. They were brazenly denied that right.

All of this has been missed in the brouhaha over the appointment of the new commissioner. In particular, not one journalist asked the critically important question, when faced off by the Minister and the happy incumbent --- “is it now the position that in South Africa some are more equal than others as is the position on Animal Farm?”.

In the many comments, elicited from the public, we see and hear not one comment that even starts to ask the question. No one takes issue with this surprising appointment on the basis of denial of a sacred and fundamental human right, even though it is staring us all in the face! No one says – “Mr President you have arbitrarily treated human beings as unequal, favouring one, discriminating against others!”

What has happened is what is known, in law, as a purely arbitrary exercise of executive power. In the Menzi Simelane case our Superior Courts explained very, very clearly that such conduct is unlawful for being irrational. Simelane was at least qualified in the core skill of the office he was appointed to. Our new Police Commissioner has openly stated that she is “going back to kindergarten to learn”about policing. 

The appointment could not be more irrational. It could not be more arbitrary. It could not be more discriminatory. It is a spectacular example of the fact that in South Africa today some are indeed very much more equal than others.

 But we are not saying it.     We are not saying it because we are not seeing it.     We are not seeing it because we are already sheep … ready for slaughter. 

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