As the TV interview ended and we went back to our lives like deer slowly drifting away from the glade in which a spaced-out and slightly paranoid doe has spontaneously combusted, we asked ourselves many questions about Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, the SA Revenue Service's (Sars's) chief of digital and IT, and user of metaphors involving the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.

For instance, had she gone onto the SABC’s Morning Live show in her official capacity, or was this her debut as a conceptual performance artist? Is she a morning person and, if she is, what happens in the Sars IT department in the afternoon, when she crashes? Does she have a special rail in her office from which she can hang, sloth-like, in those exhausting post-lunch hours?

The question most South Africans were asking, however, was a more logical one: on what planet is someone like this paid a literal fortune to head up a department of immense strategic importance?

Of course, the question isn’t new. we’ve been hearing variations on that theme for years, as an apparently endless procession of millionaire chair-warmers has shuffled through the spotlight of national outrage. Right now, however, the question is everywhere. How, we keep asking, are the likes of Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba still in government? Why hasn’t Tom Moyane been fired yet? It feels good and important to ask these things, but I suspect the answer might be more complex than we might like. It seems logical to be outraged by bad leaders and bad bosses, but I suspect that this outrage is the visible, adult reflection of a largely hidden, childlike belief that most leaders and bosses are good simply because they are leaders and bosses. It’s the same belief that makes people assume that someone in a priest’s cassock is kind or that someone in a police uniform respects the law. It’s why, when a business goes under, the public post-mortems dwell on the shrinking economy or th...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.