MONDLI Makhanya came up with a new angle on the appointment of Riah Phiyega as national police commissioner in his column yesterday. What if President Jacob Zuma, having lost his bid to have Richard Mdluli embedded as head of police intelligence and thus able to watch his (Zuma's) back, decided to put someone absolutely useless in charge of the whole force so that those more lowly bootlickers who might still exist in the force would be able to do their work for him anyway?
Or something like that.
It isn't an entirely meritless idea. Phiyega has no obvious qualifications for the job. Merely because she has worked at Transnet and Absa she is immediately turned by commentators into a "skilled administrator" or a managerial genius of some sort. In fact, the opposite may be true. Maria Ramos booted her out of Transnet, supposedly for incompetence, soon after becoming CEO there. Phiyega allegedly resigned but her R4m payout suggests otherwise. She moved to Absa, but left almost as soon as it was announced Ramos was the new CEO.
Maybe it's all personal, between the two of them, and she really is a terrific administrator. It certainly won't be long before we find out and there can't be a solid citizen among us who doesn't wish her well. To play my part, I've devised a 10-point plan to help her succeed.
First, approach the country's top audit firms and get them to second to the South African Police Service their brightest young accountants. Put three in your own office and two in each of the provinces. Make them accountable for all budgets and give them the power to look at all the numbers all the time.
Second, shut down the slush fund the police have always had access to, even though it moves around. Whether it's in crime intelligence or general operations, its mere existence is an accident waiting to happen.
Third, find some experienced generals and put them in your office too, as advisers. At least one near retirement; they are your institutional memory.
Fourth, don't ever wear a police uniform and don't call yourself a general. You're the commissioner!
Fifth, always prepare properly before you appear before your portfolio committee in Parliament.
Sixth, regular displays of sympathy for the families of police killed in action are a good thing. Equally, regular displays of sympathy for the victims of police brutality are also okay.
Seventh, in your first year, don't travel overseas. Not even once.
Eighth, don't do anything you'd rather not see in the media. Especially, try not to be seen at flash weddings or openings and never be photographed drinking or laughing with a politician.
Ninth, pay all your own bills.
Tenth, be really, really, tough on criminals.
I DON'T know why we spend so much time trying to analyse the Zuma presidency or things like his reshuffles or appointments. He is simply trying to stay alive and not go to jail for the Shaik frauds, as I keep saying here. I'm not sure there really is anything he wouldn't stoop to, politically, to keep afloat, which is probably why former University of Cape Town head Njabulo Ndebele felt constrained to write of him yesterday that, given the number of times he has looked the other way when colleagues and senior officials in his administration crossed the line, "President Zuma comes across as being highly tolerant of criminality". Good luck, Commissioner Phiyega.
HOW much more pedestrian rugby will Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer allow Morne Steyn to play at flyhalf before replacing him with the obvious man for the role - Patrick Lambie? He might not be the strongest or fastest bloke in the Bok squad but he has easily the best rugby brain of them all. His distribution on Saturday when he joined the backline was magnificent and his tactical kicking gets better every time he plays. And I have yet to see him miss one of those nerve-wracking one-on-one tackles at fullback. I know we need a reliable kicker (Lambie's no slouch himself ) but your kicker could be anyone. What you want at flyhalf is a cold, heartless, deceptive and calculating playmaker and Lambie is exactly that.