One cannot help thinking that perhaps our society has lost all grip on reality when it suddenly becomes socially acceptable to tell a massive lie – and then be praised for it. Watching the Pallo Jordan saga unfold, it’s amazing how many South Africans have come out in support of the man previously known as “Dr” Pallo Jordan, writes Jenny Reid, MD of iFacts.
Having been exposed for falsifying his qualifications on his CV, Jordan, who is a former minister of arts and culture, minister of environmental affairs, and minister of posts, telecommunications and broadcasting – disappeared and refused to comment on the newspaper’s revelations. He has since resurfaced to resign his seat in parliament. This, according to the ANC Youth League, is a show of humility. But it doesn’t end there.
Since the Sunday Times broke the story of Jordan’s false doctorate, a number of well-known South Africans have come out in support of him. Politsweb reported that our very own Gauteng Education MEC Professor, Mary Metcalfe came to his defence on Facebook, saying that “CVs sometimes contain abbreviated information”.
Politsweb also quoted Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg as having said on Facebook that “formal qualifications are not necessarily a good test of a person's intellectual abilities”.
This week, ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, said that Jordan, had remained “true to his character, resigned and apologised to the ruling party and people of South Africa”.
It’s even been reported by News24 that the ANC Youth League said it would engage its structures in tertiary institutions to start a process of ensuring that South African universities conferred honorary doctorates on Jordan for his "immense contribution" in the promotion of literary work and the development of democracy.
Have we completely lost the plot? The fact is that Jordan told a lie. This is not an insignificant half-truth, but a blatant and inexcusable deceit – and one which most likely contributed to the rapid rise of his political status.
What sort of message are we sending out to society when this level of deceit becomes socially acceptable? What are we saying to those individuals that literally sacrifice years of their personal time to obtain a real doctorate? That their qualifications are not worth the paper they are printed on? If any of us can simply add a title to our name, and begin applying for jobs we are not qualified to do, then I fear that our society is going one way.
I am not for one moment suggesting that hard-won experience, hard work, dedication and working your way up to any employment position is not credible. We see this happen every day, and it’s perfectly acceptable, even admirable. The point is that Jordan was not upfront and open about his lack of a doctorate.
The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service has just issued a warning to prospective job seekers, cautioning that lying about qualifications is a serious act of fraud. So serious in fact, that should an employer find out that the applicant lied about their qualifications, the employer is perfectly within their rights to lay a criminal charge against the applicant.
So while the lesser mortals of society may face jail time, another ANC stalwart is hailed as a hero and gets away with the type of fraud and corruption that’s become all to commonplace in our country.
Enough is enough. I for one am tired of living in a country that not only tolerates this type of behaviour, but even makes light of the fact. What’s your view?
Since publishing this articel, African National Congress Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, officialy announced Jordan's resignation from parliament. Jordan had also offered to resign from the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC and from the ANC, a move which, according to he ANC Youth League, is a show of humility.
* The opinions expresed in this article are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect he views of this publication.