That was going to be my headline for the story I was going to write about the appointment of Mo Shaik to head the secret service.

I decided not to write about it. I simply can’t.

I was going to point out that the South African Secret Service is responsible for all non-military foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence functions. I was going to say that in the post-9/11 globalized world that makes SASS scary powerful.

I was going to gently hint to possible readers about Mo’s recent history of scheming mediocrity, of his Stalinist grandiosity and his few weeks training with the Stasi in the GDR in the 80’s that supposedly qualifies him for the job – but I realised the adjectives were over-the-top –  and detracted from the general story.

I wanted to remind readers that Mo brought his friend Cyril Beeka to Polokwane as his bodyguard. I was going to leave that out there like a mysterious depth charge …

Then there was Trevor Manuel squashing Mo at Polokwane, when Mo said there may be a place in Zuma’s government for Trevor, if only he could break his habits of thought.

It would have been useful to put in the quote from Trevor when he snapped back:

Your conduct is certainly not something in the tradition of the ANC. It is obvious you have no intention of becoming part of any elected collective within the organisation, yet you arrogate to yourself the role of determinant

Hmm, I was going to say that Trevor underestimated Mo …. but maybe he overestimated Zuma. I was going to ask you to consider what Trevor Manuel must be feeling now.

It would have been interesting to talk about the Mandla Judson Kuzwayo Unit of the ANC underground and Operation Bible and Nkobi Holdings – and Mo’s central role in the Heffer Commission in 2003. But what could I say about these things that would stand up in court?

It would have been important to describe  Mo Shaik’s role in the struggle (by the now ruling ANC faction) to prevent Jacob Zuma facing corruption charges. Or his more general role in backing Zuma’s rise to the presidency.

And I would have liked to remind us of the damage done to our politics by a partisan security establishment – and by loyalist appointments.

Then I would have had to go into Mo Shaik’s tight relationship with brother’s Chippy and Shabir – I don’t really know much about Yunus.

It almost would not have been necessary to mention that Chippy headed SANDF defence procurements – the heart of the arms-deal scandal.

And of course the “dying”  convicted fraudster Shabir needs no introduction – not in his role in bribing Jacob Zuma and not in his preferential access to arms deal contracts through his relationship with Chippy and Zuma.

But then I realised I am just too discomforted to talk about this without drowning the criticism in hyperbole.

Would I be able to avoid words and phrases like “bombastic”, “mediocre”, “quasi-criminal”, “political bully” when talking about this and similar appointments?

Who cares if I think this is the first serious public sign of a deep and threatening  malaise in the ANC government?

So I decided I wouldn’t write anything about it until I had calmed down and taken a deep breath.

So I didn’t.

* See the incomparable Zapiro’s “Pirates of Polkwane”

(PS – added on October 5: the DA comment published on Politicsweb is unusually good. See it here.)

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