Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Jackie Selebi - South Africa's Police Commissioner and friend of the local Mafia
Jackie Selebi, until recent South Africa's Police Commissioner and head of Interpol has been suspended from his day job in South Africa and forced to resign as head of Interpol. The reason for all this? Well, Selebi admitted some time ago to be best friends with a local crime boss (drug trafficer Glen Agliotti), but insisted that this didn't affect his work. At long last, and despite interference by the country's President, Mr Mbeki, the National Prosecuting Authority has decided that it will charge Selebi with corruption and defeating the ends of justice. Even Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's outgoing President, couldn't protect Selebi anylonger. Despite some skirmishing from Selebi's underlings (eg his police arrested a senior member of the team investigating Selebi under drummed up charges that were straight thrown out of court), his day in court is looming - at long last.
I got to be honest, I can't stand Mr Selebi, he's a pompous, clearly inept, deeply overweight civilian with a strong preference for colourful uniforms. I recall like it was yesterday when I sat with him on a panel and he and I started a discussion about corruption in South Africa. His main mode of reasoning was to explain it away by saying that it wouldn't happen if there were not rich white Europeans (Selebi is a racist kinda character who fits well into the new South African dispensation) offering money to corrupt South Africans. I could see that there was actually some truth in this, yet it seemed at the same time plain stupid to suggest that the person who takes the money and allows him or herself to be bought is kind of innocent. It's clear to me now that Selebi might well have had himself in mind when he tried to suggest that it is (as always) the whities fault. Not a big surprise then that his mafia friend turns out to be a white bloke. He very much knew what he was talking about, it seems.
What is remarkable is how long it took to remove this shady character. The same applies to someone less shady but equally incompetent, South Africa's Minister for Health Prevention, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. All of these shenanigans can only be explained by the fact that the country is well and truly a one-party state and anything but a functioning democracy. Nobody really has the power to hold the South African government accountable for its failings, of which widespread corruption is just one.