Evolution into African institutions needed

2010-08-28 00:00

EVOLUTION can be described in simple terms as a process of adaptation or change within an entity. A lot has been said about the disbandment of the Directorate of Special Operations unit, or Scorpions, within the National Prosecuting Authority.

Politicians and scholars alike went on about what would be lost when the Scorpions were killed. I will tell you what was lost, and that is the glam, razzmatazz and CSI look and feel of the former elite crime-fighting unit.

I think that the wonderful work that was done by the unit speaks for itself. There is no shying away from the reality that the Scorpions gave new meaning to crime fighting in South Africa. Thanks to them, South Africa is still seen as the preferred option, second to none, for a gateway to the rest of Africa.

The Scorpions made South Africa look First World, for what that’s worth. As populous and oil-rich as Nigeria is, we overtook them. One of the factors that paralyses the multi-ethnic nation is corruption.

What cannot go unmentioned in the obituary of the Scorpions is how the unit got politically polarised and became its own worst enemy. While it did tremendous work for the country, it also got tangled in the politricks of governance and this spelt the end of this otherwise effective arm of the state.

Then there is the much talked about proposed media tribunal which will have the power to rap members of the media on the knuckles, should they be found to have broken the code of this body.

This has been a catalyst for much debate as members of the media and various other institutions have pushed back, shouting for their right to independence and freedom from regulation by the state or any other institution, just like the judiciary.

A lot of the institutions in this country were created from master copies of those in Western, First World countries and they were not adapted to the African landscape. This has proved to be an uncomfortable fit and hence local institutions will continue to be modified until they have evolved to fit the landscape.

The South African Constitution is a prime example and as much as the government wants to make us believe that they will not change the Constitution, it is bound to happen. If not now, inevitably later.

It’s only a matter of time. Because of our aspirations to be a First World country, we blindly copied and pasted the establishment of key bodies and institutions.

I doubt our lawmakers even knew what half the content meant, it was merely a matter of “West being best”.

It is interesting how, whenever this country stumbles and fights with itself and within itself, the search for the answers takes it back to the beginning and this is the negotiated settlement.

It is a pity we cannot turn back the hands of time, but until bodies and institutions reflect a high degree of the local African landscape, our challenges will blossom and we will continue to be our own worst enemy.

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