William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

Politically savvy teens don’t need no education

Many sniggered at activist Julius Malema’s underwhelming matriculation results. But that much-derided F he got for woodwork proved to be no impediment in his stellar rise to multi-millionaire status by his mid-twenties.

Alas for young Julius, the tax man has since bankrupted him and corruption charges make the future murky. However, the lesson is clear: the less book knowledge, the more space in the cranium for incendiary slogans. Clear, too, the implications: that for the politically savvy black teen, a gilded world of tenderpreneurship and cadre deployment lies waiting.

So briefly imagine yourself as a typically loutish male teen in post-liberation Phutaditjhaba. You hate school and you’d hate your teachers, except that they’re never around anyway – either on strike or running businesses on the side.

What to do? Soldier on to emerge with a matric certificate that no potential employer takes seriously or get onto the African National Congress’ fast track cadre deployment programme?

It’s a no brainer, so one cannot blame a certain Hlaudi Motsoeneng for in 1995 slinging his Metsi Matsho High School book-bag into the bushes and setting off in search of a powerful patron. And there he is today, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – theoretically number two, but insiders claim that he effectively rules the roost – and earning R200 000 a month more than does President Jacob Zuma.

Not that it was all smooth sailing. Motsoeneng inevitably fell foul of one or another of the SABC’s endlessly warring factions, one of which in 2003 publicly claimed that he had fibbed on his curriculum vitae about having a matric.

This sparked a Deloitte & Touche investigation, which found that he had in fact failed matric twice, and unkindly assessed him as “semi-literate”. However, while Motsoeneng might not have matric, he does have plenty of mojo. Instead of being fired, he was promoted to an executive office.

According to Kroll Background Screening, there were at least three more inquiries into Motsoeneng’s muddy CV, culminating in him being fired in 2006. But one can’t keep a connected man down and he was soon back, and in 2012 catapulted into the R2.8-million a year COO position.

In February this year he was suspended at the behest of the majority of the SABC board. This was immediately countermanded by the chair, Ben Ngubane, with the co-operation of Communications Minister Dina Pule – herself since fired for impropriety – and he immediately bounced back into his old job, albeit in an acting capacity. Soon afterwards he had the satisfaction of watching the entire SABC board being fired.

The SABC then formally advertisted the COO position – but only internally – with the previous minimum academic requirements carefully deleted. To no one’s surprise, Motsoeneng was appointed.

Replying to a parliamentary question, Communication Minister Yunus Carrim this week said that the minimum requirement for the SABC’s COO job was a “relevant degree/diploma and/or appropriate qualification”. And, presumably, the backing of the ANC’s head of cadre allotment.

As ANC scandals go, this is nothing much unusual. What makes it drolly ironic, however, is that the latest brazen machinations around Motsoeneng hit the news at the exact moment that the ANC chose to explain its latest blueprint to eradicate local government cronyism.

According to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli, senior municipal positions will be open only to candidates with the necessary “skills, expertise, competencies and qualifications”, reports The Times this week. Municipal managers will need a degree or matric plus six years of tertiary study, as well as eight years of work experience. Any senior manager guilty of dishonesty will be banned from municipal employment for 10 years.

It’s such a typical ANC story: impeccable intentions, execrable execution. It actually isn’t such a big deal to curb cronyism, nepotism and corruption. Just implement the laws that already exist. It’s not rocket science. In fact, you don’t even need a matric.

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    • Gara Pachigaro

      Communists have always despised education, and greatly fear independent thought. The ANC concept of education is ‘political education’, a euphemism for propaganda, indoctrination and stamping out of intellect. In a great irony, the universities now have a hardline Stalinist as minister of education, who is cynically determined to place universities under state control, suppress academic freedom, enforce the peddling of ideological lies and totalitarian conformity, and crush intellectual freedom of any kind. Totalitarians depend on the Big Lie for their existence – no wonder the less educated their minions are, the better.

    • Call for Honesty

      The writer of this article pulls no punches – he is honest about the shameful actions of the political class.

      It is clear that being “politically savvy” does not mean being wise, competent and principled. It does however mean being selfishly scheming, underhanded, manipulative,
      devious and crooked. None of these are the qualities of an honest, insightful and dependable leader or administrator. These are only qualities that become obvious when someone is well past their teen years, has a better understanding of the life and the real world, and has moved well past the narrow frame of reference of a naive teen.

    • Call for Honesty

      The total incompetence of the fools running the SABC would become clear if that organization received NO government financial bailouts.

      If the SABC had to stand on its own feet and through proper competent management and proficient hard working journalists and presenters produce programs that drew people and advertisers it would not need a cent of taxpayers funding. However, the SABC is both financially and morally bankrupt.

      The only reason the ANC wants to keep funding it is because it is one of their most important propaganda mouthpieces.

    • Concerned

      Good article, good comments!

    • Charlotte

      Quoting from an article in Weekend Argus headed ‘SABC’S Annual Finance Report Terrifying, say MPs': … .”Only 40% of managers between general and executive level had the qualifications and skills to do their job, a skills audit revealed. This is turn contributed to some of the auditor-general’s findings in a damning audit report for 2012/13….”
      Obviously ‘Its not what you know, but who you know’ applies no matter which way one looks at the mess that this country is in.

      Fail Grade 3? – No problem.
      No previous experience? – No problem
      Been found guilty of corruption?; or charges pending? – No problem
      In bed with someone in the ANC Rogues Gallery(literally or figuratively)?- You’ve got he job!!!~ Bonuses will be paid in the millions no matter whether you do the job or not; and no matter how you screw up. Welcome to the world of ANC corruption and ineptitude.

    • The Creator

      So he’s been working for the SABC for eighteen years, with no evidence of poor performance presented apart from being attacked by members of one of the political factions in the organisation, and yet he’s not qualified to run the place because he did poorly in school? Do you have a point, or did you have a stomach-ache on the day you wrote this?

    • WSM

      @TheCreator: You mean aside from lying about his qualifications and being fired by the SABC board? Umm, that’s okay?

    • Mr. Direct

      @The Creator

      No, not that he did badly at school, but that he lied about it for his own personal gain.

      In a position of power, how can he be trusted?

      And how can you re-employ somebody you fired for being deceitful?

      If it were my job on the line based on the success or failure of such an employee, I would not consider it. Oops, seems I stumbled on the problem in my logic, right there….

    • Baz

      @ Charlotte
      Whole heartedly agree on the points you have mentioned.
      And I think that the newly formed party with JM in leadership will no doubt
      follow the example of our current ANC’S leadership. A crying shame to the
      handful of “honest” comrades that have waken up too late to the declining
      corruption within their party.

    • opinion

      I really don’t get the point of this article