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Aggression Hides Transgression: Bheki Cele and why we need to shine a light into the darkness

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Aggression Hides Transgression
Bheki Cele, and why we need to shine a light into the darkness

There’s a quote in the Bible from Proverbs 17:9 that says, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love.”

At first glance, this can appear confusing – are we actively being encouraged to cover up the bad things people do?

Not quite.

The actual meaning is more along the lines of, “when you love someone, you don’t keep on bringing up their past transgressions. Instead, you forgive and move on.”

Which of course is very admirable when you want to keep the peace in a marriage or friendship.

But when it applies to people high up in our government or civil service?

Not so much.

Yet there seems to be a tendency to take that quote literally – “If I cover up all the bad things I do, people will love me because they have no idea how corrupt and dishonest I really am.”

Well, I for one think it’s high time we called out these people and exposed them for the sin-hiding individuals they really are.

We should be allowed to question, without fear or favour, whether our democratically elected government officials are delivering on everything they were put into power to deliver.

We should be entitled to full and honest answers to our questions.

Instead, what do we get?

Sidestepping, avoidance, lies, more lies, excuses and, far too often, aggression.

And we all know that aggression hides transgression.

It’s human nature to be defensive when we come under attack. But there’s a difference between defending our actions with reasonable justification and being blatantly aggressive to deflect attention away from the undesirable and inconvenient truth.

The recent altercation between our Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and Action Society’s Ian Cameron is a classic case in point.

Action Society is, in their own words, “a registered non-profit company and civil rights organisation which acts in the interest of its supporters and the interest of the public through active advocacy for policy change and effective implementation of policy.”

Following the collection of over 100 000 signatures of support, the organisation recently requested the removal of Bheki Cele from his position.

“South Africans are sick and tired of crime and the absolute inability of the minister to do his work,” said Cameron.

“A police minister in charge where the murder rate jumps by 22% from one year to the next is failing. A police minister showing statistics of 10 818 rape cases in three months is not doing his job effectively. Police officers who have to buy their own equipment and deal with up to 300 dockets per person indicates the minister of police is not fit for his position.”

You can imagine how well that went down with Mr Cele when all this and more was laid at his feet during a meeting in Gugulethu.

Minister Cele shouted at Cameron, and was quoted as saying, “I am not going to take any nonsense from someone who regards me as a garden boy today because you regard me as a garden boy.”

When Cameron stood up to respond, Cele shouted, “Shut up, shut up, shut up.”

According to Cameron, Cele was simply deflecting from the facts.

“There’s a time and place for everything,” he said. “I’m not concerned with his political credentials. It’s personal and we need to respect that. The problem I have is him confusing politics with crime. I did not go to Gugulethu as a white man. I went as a citizen who has been mandated by innocent victims in that area to assist them to get justice. South Africans are frustrated that the race card is pulled as soon as someone is challenged with facts.”

Cameron was forcibly removed from the meeting by police and has said he will open a case against the police officers involved.

But there’s no doubt minister Cele’s outburst had the desired effect.

It took everyone’s attention away from the very hard-hitting accusations and difficult questions about his perceived failures in office and placed it squarely on the shouting match between he and Ian Cameron.

Aggression hides transgression.

And lack of transparency hides a multitude of sins.

When something is transparent, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to hide anything in it. Think about a clear plastic bag. Any contents are immediately visible to anyone who cares to look. If our society were more transparent, the abuse and lies would be difficult to hide. All you’d have to do is shine a light in the corners and anything shady would immediately be revealed.

Imagine then, if tenders were opened, recorded, evaluated, and awarded in the public domain. (I concede that this requires a LOT of imagination but try anyway). If this were to happen, it would be extremely difficult for politicians and dishonest government officials and their business friends to connive and steal in the dark with as much impunity as they currently do.

You only have to look at countries with very low levels of corruption to see that (not coincidentally) they are also the countries with transparent government processes.

Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden, for example, are, according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index published in January this year, perceived as the top five least corrupt nations in the world.

It should come as no surprise that these same countries rank consistently highly when it comes to international financial transparency.

South Africa ranks 70th on the list.

Yet repeated calls for transparency from our leaders are ignored – turns out Eskom isn’t the only one keeping us the dark. And, unlike mushrooms, we don’t like it in here.

It’s not news that dishonest people love the dark. I mean, Dracula and his brethren have been telling us this for millennia. But we all know why we hate vampires so much – because they suck.

And talking of sucking, the lip service we get from government simply isn’t enough.

Talk is cheap. The cost of corruption isn’t.

We need less lip service and more transparency.

Let me tell you what will happen if we, the honest citizens of South Africa, continue to allow ourselves to be bullied into submission the moment we dare to challenge anyone in power on their failure to deliver:

If there is a lack of transparency, corruption will continue.

If there is lack of accountability to deliver on the positions people hold in government, corruption will continue.

If we are not allowed to question and scrutinise, corruption will continue.

Unless we are allowed to shine a light into the darkness and reveal what is really going on, nothing will change – and more fool us if we expect it to.

It’s time to hold people accountable. We invite them to answer the public in a civilised manner befitting their position.

South Africa has always been a case of “the trees voting for the axe simply because it has a wooden handle.”

No more.

This is not a case of black vs white. Of ANC vs EFF vs DA.

This is a case of the angry, frustrated, hurt and bitterly disappointed citizens of South Africa standing up to say, “Enough!”

When you want to help someone, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”

Thomas Sowell

It’s time for our government to start telling the truth.