NOTHING in the running of shadowy organisations has been as effective as the intelligent utilisation of the "skeleton in the cupboard".
Thus, the Mafia can protect itself by means of a code of conduct known as "omerta" – silence – which forbids members from disclosing any damaging information about other members to the authorities on pain of death. Members become conjoined by a natural bond which ensures unwavering loyalty to one another, and therefore to the organisation.
A variation of this principle is employed by a certain worldwide quasi-religious cult (which will remain nameless because of that organisation's proclivity for instituting financially crippling litigation against its critics). Unsuspecting applicants for membership are required to furnish potentially damaging personal details about themselves which are carefully stored to use against them later if necessary when they turn against the organisation.
This allows the organisation to fleece its members unchecked.
One wonders whether the ANC operates according to similar principles. The Protection of Information Act, while it effectively muzzles the press, seems to be aimed primarily at whistle-blowers within the ANC and it is common knowledge that the ANC closes ranks whenever someone highly placed is exposed as a criminal.
In a pathetic show of sanctity, the offender is then given a superficial slap on the wrist in the form of redeployment or something similarly innocuous. Occasionally a minor trespasser will be sacrificed to the piranhas as a diversion, but the big guys remain secure, bound together by an unspoken blood oath.
Recent calls by people like Jacob Zuma and Jeff Radebe for an end to corruption are unlikely to dislodge snouts which are now firmly ensconced in the trough.
According to an e-mail I received recently, generated from an admittedly unnamed source, the ANC's recently elected 80-member NEC allegedly includes seven with criminal records, eight who have had to resign or have been moved or censured, and nine who are presently under a cloud. Their names and alleged transgressions are stated.
With leadership of such a calibre, one can just imagine the nefarious tentacles reaching into various government departments.
However, it is difficult to believe that the ANC's dark side is run according to a hierarchical top-down command chain parallel to its primary raison d'être, that is governing the country.
It is far more probable that the structure for purposes of corrupt practice is composed of independent, informal circles roughly corresponding with hierarchical bureaucratic levels.
Thus there will be coteries ranging from the highest levels of national government right down to the lowest levels of local government, each insulated against prying eyes by a common bond.
Just like each compartment in the bowels of a ship is sealed off from the next, so are the cells in the ANC juggernaut collectively impenetrable, and it will only be when all the cell walls are so corroded and rotten that the entire dirty structure will one day be brought down.
I believe that day cannot be very far away.
JJ Ossher, Uitenhage