Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unqualified leadership

From Eddie Botha (Daily Dispatch Online)

If Phat Joe goes and Chuene stays there is something twisted about SA’s morality - Michael Trapido

That Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene is still in his job is unacceptable. Last week, writing from Atlanta in the US, and humiliated by the US TV networks’ highlights of the lies Chuene told about the gender tests conducted on 800m world champion Caster Semenya, I called for his head.

I find myself in good company. Even the Ministry of Sport called on ASA “to fire him from his position as the president of ASA”.

“If they fail to do so, they will be running the risk of being led by a liar,” deputy minister of sport Gert Oosthuizen said.

Oosthuizen, a remnant from the old Nat party and now a converted ANC member, must have had the blessing of Luthuli House to make such a statement.

That brings us to the question of leadership within the party, which has always stressed the strength and importance of its collective decision-making process.

Why then, if the party feels so strongly about ridding ASA of a lying official who has embarrassed the country, does it tolerate a total nitwit such as Julius Malema, the leader of the ANC’s Youth League?

If Malema is the best the party can offer to lead (?) its youth, then God help South Africa. What makes Malema’s position on the centre stage even more laughable, if not tragic, are his statements on the Semenya affair. This was a moment too good for the slippery tongue of Malema to ignore.

As Alex Perry, the South African-based correspondent of Time magazine, noted: “The manner in which South Africa defended Semenya only underlines how obsessed with difference the country remains.”

Perry was referring to Malema’s statement that the issue was not gender but race.

“Semenya was a victim of white officials, white media and unpatriotic white South Africans.”

Unpatriotic South Africans? Well, I for one, and I am sure I speak for the majority of white South Africans, had never heard of Semenya before the Berlin race.

The white media? Who is Malema referring to? Avusa? The Independent group? The Caxton newspapers? Media24? He has yet to specify which white media group he meant.

White officials? As far as I know only the disgraced Chuene has been exposed as the official, who single-handedly embarrassed South Africa and is probably responsible for wrecking the career of a young athlete.

Is it not ironic that Malema and Chuene’s statements sounded like an orchestrated effort to discredit white South Africans?

In the midst of the storm surrounding Semenya’s gender issue Chuene said the speculation had started in South Africa.

“I have proof of it.... We will not allow that Europeans describe our children. They are our children.”

But we now know that he is a self-confessed liar. He has no honour.

Hopefully Oosthuizen and his party will deal with Chuene. ASA has failed to do so.

But what about Malema? Can the party really afford to allow a man in their midst, who at the slightest opportunity grabs the chance to make racial accusations against people, who have not fled the country and who are keen and eager to work for the prosperity of all its peoples?

Can it really afford someone who uses his under-qualifications to speak disparagingly of rape victims to lead its youth? I am, of course, referring to Malema’s own confession that his lack of tertiary education was responsible for his alleged hate speech during an election rally where he said that President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser “had a nice time”.

Pleading ignorance in the case, which was brought against him by the Sonke Gender Justice Network, Malema said he was a “layman” and merely quoting from a High Court judgment.

He only had a matric qualification and could not quote the judgment verbatim.

“You must know that you are talking to a layman whose highest qualification is matric, who is trying to remember a judgment which was passed three years back.”

But is this “layman” qualified to accuse innocent fellow South Africans of racism?

Is he qualified to lead the ANC Youth League? I don’t think so.

# Eddie Botha is Daily Dispatch Investigations Editor

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