William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

Robert McBride: In the best tradition of cadre deployment

What a silly fuss about struggle hero Robert McBride being cnominated to head the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). So typical of racist, Eurocentric liberals not to appreciate the unique skills set he brings to the job.

Confirming the Cabinet recommendation to Parliament, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said that IPID was “an important tool” in the arsenal against police criminality. McBride “will help this important institution to achieve (its) mandate”.

Admittedly, McBride lacks the lofty academic credentials of, say, Dr Mark Shaw, who Beeld reports to be one of the shortlisted candidates rejected. Shaw headed the Institute for Security Studies’ crime and police section, advised the Gauteng Safety Minister, chaired the Committee of Inquiry on Police Reform, and was chief drafter of the government’s 1998 White Paper on Safety and Security.

Shaw then joined the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where he was chief of the Justice Reform Unit and worked on the Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime. He did extensive fieldwork on policing in fragile and post-conflict states before being headhunted by a Hong Kong consultancy that deals with community and conflict issues around the world.

But, hey, McBride is no academic slouch. He has a brace of BAs as well as a couple of diplomas in the art of foreign diplomacy. He also has a Higher Certificate in Bomb Making from the African National Congress’ civil terror division — now disbanded — which SA’s national qualifications agency apparently considers to be the equivalent of at least an Ivy League PhD.

Think also of the hands-on practical experience he will bring to the task. IPID investigates the outrages that rogue police officers perpetrate. Who better to understand the interplay of scruples and excess in the more than 700 deaths each year of suspects at the hands of the police, than McBride, who killed three women and wounded 69 people with a bomb placed in Magoo’s Bar in Durban in 1986?

In any case, although politically unreconstructed citizens twitter squeamishly about the Magoo’s escapade as if it demonstrates a fundamental character flaw in McBride, they ignore that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission granted him amnesty. Sometimes you have to get your hands wet, um dirty, I mean.

If anything, the Magoo’s bombing demonstrates that here is a man who knows how to follow orders and understands the chain of command. This will be a critical talent when dealing with incidents like the Marikana massacre — where the police shot and killed 34 miners — in deciding exactly where responsibility should be allocated and where deflected.

While the likes of Shaw might know about policing “fragile and post-conflict” societies, McBride knows about the murky circumstances in which fragility and conflict are actually created. He was once arrested — charges were later dropped — for arms smuggling in Mozambique while, he claims, on assignment for the National Intelligence Service. There were convictions, too, for drunk driving and defeating the ends of justice, resulting in jail sentences that were overturned on appeal.

So McBride understands first-hand that being accused of bad things doesn’t make one a bad person. It is likely that the interviewing committee — fortuitously consisting mostly of his old armed struggle comrades — will have taken this into consideration in preferring him to some ingénue who has never even seen the inside of a jail cell.

During McBride’s trial for drunk driving and defeating the ends of justice, there were eye-popping accounts of Ekurhuleni Metro Police under his control being a haven of rigged promotions, false statements, the kidnapping of suspects, the assault of witnesses and the covering up crimes. These were obviously frivolous accusations — why else would Ekurhuleni spend R12 million of ratepayer money to defend McBride? — but nevertheless, again all grist to the experience mill.

Simply put, McBride’s nomination is in the highest tradition of ANC cadre deployment. I can’t wait for the ANC’s new integrity committee to give it their public seal of approval.

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    • http://paulwhelanwriting.blogspot.com Paul Whelan

      As you make clear, a policy of cadre deployment can have no moral or logical limits: the point of the policy is that it must trump all other considerations. This is perhaps only the most egregious example to date.

      Some small consolation is that longer term it is inevitable the policy will self-destruct from its patent lack of all standards except party interest.

      Unfortunately, the longer term can be much longer than is good for any of us.

    • http://paulwhelanwriting.blogspot.com Paul Whelan

      To underline the obvious, an appointment like this would be impossible in a functioning democracy, which we can take to mean one where there is available an alternative party of national government.

      In that case no governing party would risk such an appointment: the ‘opposition’ would make mincemeat of them. In other words, ‘independent’ standards drift and decay in a party-state because they lack a focus.


    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/williamsaundersonmeyer/2013/11/16/robert-mcbride-in-the-best-tradition-of-cadre-deployment/ proactive

      …it’s unbelievable,outrageous, disgusting and very politely presented WSM!

      It fits the ongoing pattern of the last several years to burden us with choices by selecting, appointing, and hopefully- reversing under pressure- the worst possible candidate.

      But, …..it is of course our heads which are screwed on the wrong way and our brains wrongly wired- not theirs! The dark shadow of a JZ leadership hangs over SA! Remember?:

      “One does not simply walk into MORDOR. Its black gates are guarded by more than just ORCS. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the GREAT EYE is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume”

      Lets wait and enjoy a Zapiro presentation on this.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Bill, you are doing nothing but making fun of this appointment of McBride.

    • bernpm

      Brilliant sarcasm and in support of the old saying: ” it takes a thief to catch a thief”

    • Douleur

      Not to mention that by ‘criminalising’ the office supposed to handle complaints by the public against the police in cases of police abuse, the comrades ensure that the police force follows the old Soviet model – a corrupt force to protect the political elite against the citizens, not the other way round as in a normal democracy. SA’s political values are truly beyond belief.

    • Sanjeev

      ‘eye-popping accounts of Ekurhuleni Metro Police under his control being a haven of rigged promotions, false statements, the kidnapping of suspects, the assault of witnesses and the covering up crimes.’ And, worst of all, also accounts of the bullying of the few clean policemen in the department – the few people of guts and integrity willing to stand up for their convictions. The state is beginning to resemble a rotten house of cards, with corrupt and venal people stacked up on top of each other, and honest people wanting nothing to do with any of it.

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/williamsaundersonmeyer/2013/01/19/a-surprise-honeymoon-for-the-president/ charles

      Well corruption breeds corruption no doubt. The whole cabinet is corrupt and therefore they allow the corrupt to join them.
      Thuli Madonsela is trying her utmost to reveal the president yet all technical approaches is being allowed that will protect him. Yet the supporters are given a t-shirt and a cap, then the vote is for the ANC. Yet they are so blind and illiterate they just see the t-shirt and cap.
      They all have a hold on Zuma, Mcbride, Shaik and the list goes on and do not forget Selebi

    • nguni

      An absolute gem, Bill. Politely written, but so clear to those who can join the dots. Sadly many can’t, so don’t be surprised if this appears in some ANC newspaper as a summary of this cadre’s achievements.. The most depressing part of this story is that there appears to have been a very suitable alternative candidate for the job, amazing after 20 years of chaos that SA still has this talent available.

    • BrianB

      The ANC gained power through the violent excesses of the likes of McBride.
      The tired old NP hierarchy decided that they no longer wished to continue with the apartheid charade and handed the ANC the country on a plate.
      Now nearly 2 decades later we still treat thugs who have subsequently thoroughly discredited themselves as Royal Game.
      What a sad state of affairs.

    • Percipient

      This appointment reminds me of how the late Yuri Bezmenov (former KGB-dissident to the West) described the process of Ideological Subversion: it is an overt process. McBride’s appointment is overt, his ugly CV is overt, it’s there for all to see.

      Tyranny, once reaching a certain threshold, finds it no longer necessary to keep its inherent evils a secret: the masses are powerless and brainwashed anyway, and dissenters are easily kicked back into line, locked up, or else disposed of.

    • Mpofu

      The problem here William is that your very excellent article is so intelligently constructed that it will go right over the heads of these gravy train feeding cadres. They just don’t have the mental capacity or integrity to see it

    • Rory Short

      There is a saying which no doubt many people know, it runs as follows, ‘A fish rots from the head down’. Sadly for us South Africans the Zuma presidency has proved to be an unsurpassed example of the truth of this saying.

    • http://paulwhelanwriting.blogspot.com Paul Whelan

      @Percipient – While the point you make is a sound one, it is clearly an exaggeration to say SA is already a tyranny that can afford to ignore the need to hide dark dealings. At this point we are rather seeing a beleaguered party (or faction, if you prefer) taking every step to maintain their ascendency.

      If SA is to remain a democracy (or again, if you prefer, to become one), it must finally be down to voters to do something about it – that is, start voting for some other party.

      That change may well come very slowly. It is a challenge to people’s innate conservatism and loyalties and deference to authority. More than that, if you are an ANC supporter, the solution to your party’s mistakes and abuses does not seem to you immediately to kick them out for someone else. It is to hope they will return to their ‘core principles’, or that a better ‘leader’ will sort them out. At worst, you may register your disapproval by abstaining.

      Chances are the democratic solution then will be a long time coming – that is, to become ‘democratic’ in reality as well as name.

      But we never know how long. Things have changed beyond recognition since everyone kowtowed to former president Mbeki, hanging on his every word.

    • Skumbuzo

      Is McBride genuinely the best the ANC has……..if so……….omg…….don’t even think that

    • PrettyBelinda

      I too believe the appropriate candidate exists, there are still a few good experienced and trained men and women to fill this position. We dont need rogues to deal with rogues

    • Pakane

      Talent, experiences and qualifications are towered by political populism in a shameful secrete-bill infested democracy. A belief in hard working your way up the career ladders is dwarfed by being in the advantageous side of a corruptive corrupted political authority!

    • Barb Eh

      I honesty didn’t expect to read of anyone as inappropriate for a high office as Toronto, Canada’s current mayor Rob Ford, who cannot distinguish between right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, I could go on. But honestly, we can’t begin to compare to this. Very well written piece.

    • Curious Commenter

      @ WSM
      Is the word ‘cnominated’ in your first line an abbreviation for ‘corruption nominated’?

    • Concerned

      Isn’t it amazing that the ANC has neither appointees with integrity nor members who care a damn…

      Is McBride the very, very best the ANC has to offer from all the people of South Africa – Black, White, Coloured, Indian or Chinese? Or only from its cardres…

    • http://Www.sydneymajoko.wordpress.com Sydney

      William, you have a way with words. Bravo. You have managed to do what everyone else has been doing since the new government took over: take a very emotive incident in the life of a person and use it to demonise him. Before you ask, I hate cadre deployment, I believe the ANC is corrupt from the head down. But if it only took an Ivy League degree to hold a senior post like the IPID one then we might as well abandon Project Save SA. However unpalatable the truth is, McBride acted in way he did back in 1986, three lives were lost and he got caught, he was nearly hanged for his actions.

      What I do not get though is why act as though McBride has continuously acted in a murderous way, has he not shown remorse? I truly feel sorry for his victims, but one is now led to ask the question: is the obsession with Robert McBride in the psyche of white people in this country not born of the fact that his three victims were white? If it is, what about the thousands of black lives lost in the years leading to 1994?

      Sometimes cadre deployment is used because South African society, whites in particular wish people like McBride dead. They forget that the despicable act at Magoo’s was part of a larger more righteous struggle. I hate the corruption that Zuma presides over in the ANC, but demonizing McBride in the name of corruption only serves to derail Project save SA.

    • Ron

      Get over it and yourselves; There is so much more that you can all stress about than Mc Bride’s upcoming position.

    • Zeph

      BBBEE gone horribly wrong.

    • Mark

      When I read about the ANC in 2013 I cant help chuckle at how this organisation fails to learn from history, but always chooses to repeat it. I also stumbled across this quote by JFK “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future”. By translating this into the South African context, if the ANC could adopt these principles then we would be on the road to recovery.

      But uunfortunately, the only way for the ANC to cement its support base is to contantly rehash the past and make sure the citizens of this country wallow in it everyday.

    • BrianB

      “But unfortunately, the only way for the ANC to cement its support base is to constantly rehash the past and make sure the citizens of this country wallow in it everyday.”

      Well said Mark.

      The same may be said of certain “Thought Leaders”.

      Lets move on and stop wallowing

    • http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/ Julian Frost

      Sydney, are you serious? Did you even read William’s column?
      This is not about what McBride did in 1986. This is about the fact that in 1998 McBride traipsed into Mocambique and was arrested for gun-running, and then gave multiple versions of events to the Mocambiquan police, all of which were denied or refuted. This is about the fact that he was appointed head of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Force despite being far less qualified than other candidates. This is about the fact that he is being considered to head up the IPID despite being far less qualified than Dr Mark Shaw, whom William named as a shortlisted candidate.
      In short, this is about Cadre Deployment and the appointment of an unsuitable person who is being appointed simply because he is a member of the ruling party and not because he is right for the job (he isn’t).

    • Alex Thompson

      As an outsider looking in. I am surprised at the complacency and obvious restraint reflected in all these comments published. Are the contributors afraid of reprisals.
      It must be Hell living in a democracy such as S. Africa. – Our plans to visit the Game Reserves S.A. is so famous for are on hold (indefinitely)

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    • Nobuhle

      EVERYONE making comments, as well as the article author himself,are IGNORANT and shooting their mouths off about someone whom they know NOTHING about! @Julian Frost, you state that “This is not about what McBride did in 1986.”But then you TOTALLY lose the plot again!!! All of you keep falling back on Magoo’s bar, gun-running in Mozambique, and an accident which he was the only person involved in the accident (No-one else was involved) @Sydney, I agree 100% with your comment about the people having lost their lives in Magoo’s were WHITE! I have not ONCE heard or seen anyone making all these comments about even ONE Black CHILD who lost their lives at the hands of WHITE terrorists!!!!!!!!! As for @Sanjeev, who exactly were these “…few clean policemen in the department – the few people of guts and integrity willing to stand up for their convictions.”? Mr Robert John McBride was the BEST thing that ever happened to the Ekurhuleni Metro Police DEPARTMENT. Since he has been gone the EMPD has gone straight to the dogs!!! The most corrupt Metro Police Officers at EMPD will tell you that he was the BEST Chief of Police the dept. ever had as he never tolerated the nonsense which they are all busy with today! HE IS THE BEST CANDIDATE to head the IPID as he is a man who does not tolerate Corruption or any other forms of misconduct by Police Officials. The White population in SA will NEVER forget the bombing but they have all CONVENIENTLY forgotten all the Black lives which were…

    • http:/www.thoughtleader.co.za/ Stratgq

      To all the custodians of the draconian apartheid system, be they former office bearers, or the privileged few who empowered the former white regime and condoned their heinous crimes taking the innocent lives of tens of thousands. You benefited out of raping not only this country but this continent. You entitled yourselves economically and prejudiced a people without the bat of an eyelid. I challenge the author and all whites complaining about the ruling party to write about their own forefathers and the atrocities they committed in the name of economic benefit and racial segregation. Do NOT allow convenient amnesia to allow yourselves the ability to ignore the history of rape, plunder, carnage, displacement and murder committed in Africa.

      Yes!!! I’m a 50 year old product of colour and an example of the unlettered!