TOM EATON: Quotation marks of the beast shalt not be exorcised
It’s been a week, to quote Paul Simon, of hints and allegations. As Sunday’s cabinet announcement became Monday’s, and then Tuesday’s, and possibly Wednesday’s, we could only imagine the threats and ultimatums being flung around behind closed doors. But of all the mysteries we faced this week, one loomed over the rest, a macabre Yeti leaving tantalising footprints across the political landscape: the ANC’s “integrity committee”.
For some reason my colleagues in the media have started using the phrase without quotation marks around it, as if it is a committee that is somehow dedicated to integrity and not the same group of fart-catchers that cleared David Mabuza, Malusi Gigaba, Faith Muthambi and Bathabile Dlamini for another term at the trough. Then again, our press regularly refers to “white monopoly capital” and “radical economic transformation” sans quote marks, so I suppose all that money paid to Bell Pottinger wasn’t wasted after all. Critical faculties 0, Joseph Goebbels 1.
We know what the “integrity committee” doesn’t do: it doesn’t enforce a minimum ethics standard in the ANC. Though, to be fair, it couldn’t: if the ANC required its senior officials to understand the difference between right and wrong, Luthuli House would contain four people. But what does it do? We know it doesn’t make judgments based on actual evidence, so how does it decide whether you’ve been naughty or nice? And once it...