Party vs people

2008-04-19 00:00

South Africa is faced by numerous major challenges that could cripple its future if left unresolved. Yet the African National Congress spends an extraordinary amount of time pursuing its vendetta against the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions).

In his latest outburst, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe suggests that the Scorpions constitute a nest of apartheid-era agents and foreign interests with a tendency to operate outside the law. If the latter allegation is true, it should be tested by due legal process and dealt with, not used as an excuse for shutting down the unit. Setting up convenient bogeymen and implying that the Scorpions are a security police legacy has the echo of Robert Mugabe’s tactics in Zimbabwe.

The Khampepe Judicial Commission recommended that the Scorpions should not be amalgamated with the police service, held in low esteem by the public. The ANC’s attitude leads to the obvious conclusion that the main sins of the Scorpions have been their success; and their determination to follow serious crime wherever it leads, including the highest reaches of government.

Spokespeople for the ANC, including Mantashe himself, use a thinly disguised code when referring to the judicial system, demanding that it be accountable to the people and earn their respect. This will only be achieved by adherence to the law of the land and pursuit of all who break it.

The planned closure of the Scorpions is a clear case of party versus people. The ANC has chosen to prioritise its narrow concerns and betray the national interest. It is an alarming indication of the extent to which standards of political morality have declined compared with the hopes of those who struggled to bring down apartheid.

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