The suspension of highly-placed officials has become a routine feature of South African life. But the SABC must have set a record with its head of news and current affairs, Snuki Zikalala, and its chief executive, Dali Mpofu, both relieved of their duties within a few hours. While details are obscure, they probably reflect fault lines within the ANC. Other suspensions are the result of criminal or other inappropriate activity. But they raise the same general concern about the consequences of political patronage. At all levels of government and within parastatal organisations there is ample evidence that appointments have been made on the strength of political allegiance rather than professional ability, aptitude and experience.