Thanks to you, Mr Nene, one child now knows lying is a no-no

Ideas

Thanks to you, Mr Nene, one child now knows lying is a no-no

The state capture probe is not just there to scrape out the rot in the ruling barrel; it's a good parenting guide

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times


Nhlanhla Nene has done a noble thing for all parents of young children. A friend told me yesterday that, thanks to the finance minister, her son has learnt why it is important to tell the truth.
Here’s how this came about: Having caught her child trying to pretend he hadn’t told a fib when the evidence overwhelmingly proved that he had, my friend tried to explain the benefits of confessing by using Nene as an example.
“Mr Nene told a lie,” she said to her son. “And then he told another lie by saying he hadn’t told a lie. He might be telling the truth now, but look what trouble he’s in.”
The small boy was suitably chastened (and terrified that his picture might appear on the front page of the Sunday Times). He promised never again to lie about having lied. If he breaks this oath it might mean he’s lying now; or perhaps not, if he then comes clean and says he lied when he vowed not to lie ... but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
This made me think about all the other lessons we have learnt from those in the eye of the state capture storm. Listening to or reading about what is revealed with each new testimony is a bit like asking to be repeatedly punched in the stomach. It is depressing; it is enervating; it is disappointing, to say the least. But it’s all coming out, and as they say after a bout of bad mushrooms: better out than in.
There is a lot more of it to come, so best we look on the bright side or we might all have to be treated for chronic capture fatigue. One way to get the benefit of this nasty medicine is to draw from the morass of lies and manipulation useful lessons such as the one my friend’s son took from minister Nene.
The inadvisability of lying as a career strategy is a start, but there is more good advice to be gleaned. Thanks to Ajay Gupta, for instance, we know that strict vegetarianism does not necessarily correlate with ethical conduct. (We knew that already, of course – history is full of non-meat-eaters who did reprehensible things – but it’s always good to have a current reminder.)
Thanks to the representatives of several banks (assuming they are telling the truth), we also now know that bank managers, at least some of them, can be trusted after all. It is a relief to know that if your bank decides to close your account based on some suspicious transfers, there is very little you will be able to do about it. Even sending heavies from government and big business to strong-arm them will have little to no effect.
And for mothers of daughters, there is great comfort to be found in the testimony of Mabel Patronella “Vytjie” Mentor, whose surname is an exceedingly appropriate one. Ms Mentor heeded the advice of her mother, or whichever mentor gave her the guidance to which she so admirably clung when placed under pressure to betray her guiding principles.
She can be held up as an example of why children should learn never to go anywhere at night with a stranger, particularly in a strange country, no matter how insistent he becomes and even if he says he’s taking you to meet the president. Actually, particularly if he says he’s taking you to meet the president.

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