Monday, November 23, 2009

Racial lunacy in the police

When I say there is no reporting of South Africa in the foreign media, I mean there is effall being reported about the country unless of course it involves dumb student pranks. I could say categorically that if it were not for the expat army of South Africans telling of the crime say, in South Africa, it would go untold, that's how much the foreign mainstream media has avoided reporting on that information.

James Myburgh questions the awful silence of Western opinion

It seems that the racial policies of the SAPS may well have served as a cover for other agendas.


The story has also been extensively reported on in the English-language South African press, and no journalist could be unaware of it. Why then, has it received so little coverage in the foreign media?

Sunday Times' ave. paid circulation drops below 500,000 for first time since 1999 - 23 Nov 2009

Weekend papers bleed readers (Sunday Times, Rapport, City Press, Sunday Independent, Mail & Guardian, The Weekender, Sunday Sun, Sunday World, Sunday Tribune, ALL down) - Gee, I wonder why...? Maybe South Africans are tired of the "balanced" under-reporting of crime and mismanagement of the country? Use it, don't use it.

In November 2006 the South African Police Service adopted an "Employment Equity Plan" for the period from 2007 to 2010 (see report). The document made clear that the overriding goal of the police's top brass was ensuring that the institution reflected, at all levels, the racial proportions of the national population.

It boasted that "stringent measures" had already been put in place to ensure compliance, by senior management, with these "numeric targets" in recruitment, promotions and appointments. And, it mooted the possibility of re-introducing "severance packages" to accelerate the clearing out of racial minorities from the organisation.

The document embodied the racial lunacy of the Mbeki-era. Crime was rampant. South Africans were living in a state of fear. The police force was crippled by a shortage of expertise. And in the midst of all this, the SAPS leadership remained obsessed only with the pursuit of an odious racial ideal.

Recently, the Solidarity trade union launched a new series of legal challenges against a number of incidents of racial discrimination that resulted from this policy. In almost all of the cases, the union states, the police leadership preferred to keep positions vacant rather than appoint qualified white applicants to fill them.

These cases are designed to test the legality of certain extreme forms of race-based ‘affirmative action.' They may also succeed in highlighting the ongoing personal and institutional costs of racial discrimination and exclusion.

The first of them was heard in the Johannesburg Labour Court last week. Captain Renate Barnard was recommended twice for promotion in 2005 and 2006 but her promotion was blocked by the then national commissioner of police, Jackie Selebi.

Testifying on behalf of the SAPS Senior Superintendent Johannes Phetolo Ramothoka said that Selebi "wanted to ensure that all units" adhered to the "equity plans" of the organisation. "White females were already over-represented by five at salary level nine" he stated, "so her appointment would have meant an over representivity of white females on that level."

In turn, Barnard broke down in tears as she testified about how she found all avenues of promotion closed to her. She told the court that all she ever wanted to do was serve in the police, and was totally committed to her work. "I want to ask management, what must I do more to get a promotion? I sacrificed my family to do my job properly. I am a top performer."

It seems that the racial policies of the SAPS may well have served as a cover for other agendas.

It was suggested in court that the (former MK?) soldiers redeployed from the SANDF to the SAPS in 2004 and 2005 - after a twelve week conversion course - have subsequently received preference in promotions. Barnard testified that members of the police who had joined from the defence force were all now superintendents or senior superintendents. She and many other career police officers meanwhile - both white and black - remained stuck at the rank of captain.

Selebi's refusal to promote experienced and committed police officers also stands in marked contrast to his enjoyment, or so it is alleged in his corruption trial, of the company of rich white crooks.

This then is an important story, and a very revealing one. One cannot understand the institutional rot that set in during the Mbeki period without reference to the racial obsessions, and all the attendant pathologies, of that era. The success or failure of the new Zuma administration will depend, to a significant degree, on whether it can move away from them.

The story has also been extensively reported on in the English-language South African press, and no journalist could be unaware of it. Why then, has it received so little coverage in the foreign media?

There appears to be a deep reluctance by foreign correspondents to report on cases of discrimination against racial minorities in Southern Africa.

One possible reason for this is that a disturbing number of Western intellectuals regard such measures as fully justified even when it crosses over, as it did in Zimbabwe, into outright persecution.

In its report on Solidarity's press conference Reuters, for one, took it upon itself to try and rationalise away the racial policies of the SAPS. The Reuters handbook states that "As Reuters journalists, we never identify with any side in an issue, a conflict or a dispute" and that "Reuters journalists do not express their opinions in news stories." Thus, its reports will often qualify a statement of the blindingly obvious as being the expression of the view of one side or the other. Reuters' reports on Zimbabwe, for example, commonly state that "critics" blame the economic collapse in that country on Zanu-PF policies such as the "seizures of white-owned farms."

In its report on the initial Solidarity announcement, however, this principle was thrown out the window. Reuters simply regurgitated, as unquestionable fact, two stock claims of African nationalist propaganda. The article stated that the police's "affirmative action quotas" were "established to address the wrongs of apartheid"; and that the "legacy" of white minority rule "can still be seen, with whites continuing to occupy a disproportionately large number of senior positions in government and the private sector."

But while many Western journalists and commissioning editors may instinctively support ‘affirmative action quotas' in South Africa this does not fully explain the deep aversion to publishing stories on the consequences. American and British readers may be delighted (or appalled) at the way Renate Barnard was treated, but why keep them in the dark about this matter?

The problem is perhaps that most left-leaning Western intellectuals regard opposition to racism as central to their sense of self. This principle has often co-existed with a complete identification with the cause of black African liberation.

It is in the maltreatment of Africa's racial minorities by newly ascendant black nationalist regimes that these two core beliefs collide. The honest response would be to acknowledge this clash, and weigh the one belief against the other.

Instead, the usual pattern is for such intellectuals to wage an ideological war of position against this discomforting reality. The existence of discrimination is ignored or denied. When it can not be denied it is euphemised. When it can no longer be euphemised it is rationalised.

And when it can no longer be rationalised that minority's moral claim to equal treatment is aggressively derided.

It is a great pity that the West has chosen to turn a blind eye in the way that it has. Some of the worst elements in our society take great comfort from that fact.

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