Our dear President Zuma believes, somewhat hysterically, that a key way to intimidate criminals is to change the names of officials in the police as well as to rename the South African Police Service the South African Police Force. He writes in his online letter:
Criminals would be more fearful of a police force than a police service. They would normally find a Police General more menacing than a Police Commissioner, the same applies to the difference between a Director and a Brigadier-General, a Colonel and a Superintendent, a Station Commissioner and a Station Commander.
The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard responded with this very witty riposte:
STATEMENT BY HER GRACE DR DIANNE KOHLER BARNARD MP, PHD, MD
DA EXECUTIVE SHADOW MINISTER OF POLICE
If titles equal respect then Julius Malema needs the world’s longest title
In these difficult times good news is hard to come by. And so the Democratic Alliance is overjoyed that the Police ‘Service’, in an ingenious move to end crime, is changing its name to Police ‘Force’. This initiative alone will, no doubt, have a powerful effect. We have already seen the dramatic impact that the change from the ‘Department of Safety and Security’ to the ‘Department of Police’ has had on crime. These things strike fear into the hearts of criminals. The more name changes, the better.
Cleverer still, is the idea to change the title of ranking officers, from silly names like ‘Commissioner’ to awe-inspiring designations like ‘General’, which will “command more respect” to quote Deputy National Commissioner Hamilton Hlela.
We couldn’t agree more.
This kind of brilliant logic is sorely lacking in South African politics. The powerful connection between one’s title and the respect afforded to the requisite person is well documented. Indeed, one need look no further than that universally acclaimed democrat, Idi Amin, for evidence to this effect. His humble title – “His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” – was the very difference between him being written-off as an abomination and the huge respect he now garners the world over.
The question is, why have the police taken so long to cotton on? More to the point, what about all the other people in the ANC who are in desperate need of more respect? Julius Malema for example. The poor man needs all the help he can get.
We would like to propose that his title be changed from ‘President of the ANC Youth League’ to ‘Lord High Chancellor of Youth’ (even Darth Vadar had to report to the Lord High Chancellor). We think this will make a big difference.
Also, former Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (now a lowly Member of Parliament); we think her title should be changed to ‘Grand Wizard’ – a suitable allusion to her ability to mix potions from beetroot and garlic.
President Jacob Zuma (Emperor Zuma?) needs to get onto this issue right away.
By some bizarre chance, should all these changes not engender the appropriate respect, we can only suggest that the problem might actually lie with the behaviour and conduct of those individuals, as opposed to their titles. No doubt this is completely wrong, but on the off-chance that there is something to it, might we further suggest that staying in five star hotels, spending R1.6 million on luxury cars, being charged and brought before the court on corruption charges, not releasing crime statistics, arguing crime is not a crisis and failing to prepare for committee meetings, also has something to do with the problem? What exactly, we cannot say.
But that’s all by-the-by. In the meantime, the police leadership should concentrate all its energy on titles and getting names right. That’s what the average South African really needs, wants and expects from the Police Service. I mean Force.