Tuesday 21 August 2007

Pissed Dr. Beetroot stole my liver

A South African Maelstrom

It would appear I have pitched my tent in Southern Africa over the last week and not without reason.

Mr. Thabo Mbeki seems to have stirred the hornet’s nest and will come a-stinging without respite.

As the Economist opines in their leader of last week, Mr. Mbeki sacked the wrong minister by sacking the deputy rather than the substantive holder of the portfolio.

Much as been made of the relationship that goes back 40 years between Dr. Beetroot and Mr. Mbeki and that leader goes on to say that he has favoured loyalty over competence.

In-bred cliques

Indeed, any leader would want all his “Yes-men” to be competent, but as we have in the Bush administration where 150 of the staff are from the Regent University which was founded by Pat Robertson.

When leaders fail to make their teams a broad church representative of all spectra of the people they govern, they lose out on competencies that might not necessarily be prevalent in their nominal entourage of fawning admirers.

It cannot be said that this clique of alumni of what is essentially a Christian Madrasah have not influenced policy and skewed debate in on the hot-button issues like abortion, gay-rights, stem-cell research, the projection of American might and Middle-East issues.

In a stealing position again

However, back to South Africa, the gloves have now come off for both Mr. Mbeki and Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the ailing Health Minister with the credibility of the president at stake.

A news investigation has revealed what might turn out to be a rotten scandal. Dr. Beetroot is alleged to have jumped the queue for a liver transplant whilst suffering from alcoholism.

This had better not be true, but the government has come out with a half-hearted rebuttal of this story being “false and speculative”.

Beyond that, another story emerged that Dr. Beetroot was convicted – not just caught and charged or reprimanded – she was convicted of stealing from a patient when she worked as a medical superintendent in Botswana.

Loyalty paybacks

What makes this story look like the ebbing before a humongous tsunami is there allegation that the President brought his office and influence to bear on the surgeons to approve the transplant for the minister.

In effect, leaving this liability of a Health Minister to thrive when she should have been summarily sacked years ago is about to drag the President into a quagmire he would wish he has the means to escape.

I would suspect there is more to come to substantiate these allegations with the other skeletons that might fall out of cupboards to embrace those not looking.

There definitely would have been others genuinely in need of a liver transplant not given to drink, that person has been sacrificed on a less than principled premise of retaining incompetence and ridicule.

Thereby, nepotism and outrageous influence peddling in a country shaking off the shackles of apartheid is about to tarnish the work of those gone before.

If anything can be learnt from this matter, it is that blind loyalty can sink the sycophant and the master whilst obvious competence does elevate the proponent and the master might just have to learn to live with it and the lesser satisfaction that they had the foresight to chose the competent person in the first place.


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