This is not my size

2015-11-30 08:58

The Western Cape High Court recently delivered a devastating yet unsurprising blow to Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his political heads when it declared his permanent appointment as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) invalid and unlawful. It was the latest episode of a tragi-comedy which exposes the embarrassing folly of applying a misguided and unprincipled cadre-deployment policy that is based on party loyalty and not technical competence.

Faith Muthambi, the minister of communications has not covered herself in glory with her unfounded  support for a man who is clearly unsuitable for the position he occupies. One could even argue that she is supporting criminality as Motsoeneng was found to have lied about having a matric certificate by the Public Protector. Judge Dennis Davis found that Muthambi had not properly applied her mind in making the decision to appoint Motsoeneng and had ignored a binding set of findings which required immediate remedial action. Perhaps, as many have said; she had other considerations. Hlaudi Motsoeneng is rumoured to have the backing of the highest office in the country. As such, many believe that Hlaudi Motsoeneng is his master’s voice-and that is what Muthambi is protecting.

When looking at the broader picture, one would be forgiven for saying that the hallmark of Jacob Zuma’s administration is the appointment of technically weak, poorly-skilled cronies to high office. In some rare cases, the appointments would appear to be the promotion of hard-working technocrats who have been in the shadow of the predecessors. Nhlanhla Nene taking over from Pravin Gordhan in the Finance Ministry and the appointment of Lesetja Kganyago to head up the Reserve Bank are examples that spring to mind in this regard. However, the overarching theme would appear to be hiring and eventual firing of misfits. Some say that this shores up the power of the incumbent president and his clique. When Riah Phiyega was appointed the National Commissioner of the police force there was a huge outcry about her lack of policing experience and  proven management track record. Journalists were scrambling to find out who she was and where she had come from. Her history at ABSA didn’t say much and provided no clues as to why she would be suitable to lead the country’s fight against crime. Her sceptics have since been proven right, with devastating results. she has now been suspended and is also facing criminal charges to add to the blasting she received from the Farlam Commission report in relation to her conduct at the enquiry and her actions during the Marikana tragedy. One must ask why she accepted this position.

Many expressed shock and dismay when Senzeni Zokwana and Bheki Cele were appointed to be minister and deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries respectively. Zokwana’s claim to fame is overseeing the implosion of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which was roundly rejected by the majority of mineworkers at Marikana who joined Joseph Mathunjwa's AMCU en-masse, some even opting to represent themselves in their disputes with management. NUM was accused of being an ally of the mining houses and not the workers. Cele’s history with signing dodgy leases with politically connected businessmen and helping to increase police brutality with his “shoot-to-kill” rhetoric is well publicised. Where were they going?

The current ambassador to the Netherlands is Bruce Koloane, the infamous scapegoat for the illegal landing of a jet carrying wedding guests at Waterkloof Air base in a scandal now known as “Guptagate”. There are reports that Major General Chris Ngcobo, the disgraced former head of Crime Intelligence and VIP Protection, who was found to also have lied about possessing a matric certificate, has been appointed as the ambassador to Mali. One is tempted to think that the SA government does not hold the Netherlands and Mali in high regard and are treating them with contempt. How else would one explain using other countries as glorified penal colonies? Koloane and Ngcobo join the likes of Jon Qwelane, Ebrahim Rasool and Miriam Segabutla on the list of disgraced public figures that were sent on ambassadorial duty.

Many sports team coaches and players alike have lost their jobs for having a “small club mentality” while working for a “big team” team or being deemed to be out of their depth. People with Code B licences are not allowed to drive Heavy Motor Vehicles on public roads and yet we have many ill-prepared people occupying the commanding heights of large institutions, steering the country and the economy to an uncertain future. We even have some who are tasked with being our representatives in foreign countries. This is an insult to the many skilled and hard-working people who can be found in every government department, labouring under the weight of poor decision-making by political deployees who, more often than not, have no idea what they are doing.

Much has been said about the leadership acumen of the president of the Republic and his sub-ordinates in making these questionable appointments, perhaps it’s time we start asking questions about our political systems and these hapless opportunists who don’t know how to decline roles that are bigger than them. They need to learn the humility required for them to echo the words of Mercy Pakela’s 80’s pop hit: “Ayashisa amateki, this is not my size” (These sneakers are too hot for me, this is not my size).

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