Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Broadside for the Navy - racialism or the usual bungle?

Dear Johannes Mudimu, Chief of the South African Navy,
          We all know your kids, if you’ve got any, could float a more impressive array of boats in their bath than our Navy can do at sea. You have the dubious distinction of being in charge of a joke.
          I accept it’s not your fault that the African National Congress Government has wasted billions on useless ships and submarines. But some of the bungles that followed were under your command.
          How embarrassing it must have been for you when one of the three new, Type 209 German submarines that we got at a paltry 285 -million dollars each was put out of action by a Navy Incompetent. That’s one of the ranks in our tin pot Navy isn’t it?
          He put a plug in the wrong socket during a switch over from the shore to ship electrical supply. The sub’s been out of action now for three years. But as luck would have it your Navy has only managed to train enough submariners for two subs so we didn’t need this other one anyway.
          As you know one of the subs was bashed because the entrance to the sub base in Simon’s Town is too small for this kind of sub. And in keeping with our Government’s proud, naval tradition there are no plans to widen the entrance.
          These are just some of the examples of the screw-ups that you no doubt have had to try and deal with during your tenure.   
       But just because we might lose a few submarines or ships here and there because your guys are technologically backward there’s absolutely no excuse for not paying people who have worked faithfully for the Navy for years..
          Michael Fielding has lectured on Warfare Communications at the Naval Staff College in the Muizenberg suburb of Cape Town for more than 30 years. You might have heard of him. He even developed some of the courses.
          In spite of the fact that he had not been paid for a year and was owed 50 grand he still turned up to give one of his lectures. You can imagine how surprised and upset he was by what happened as he was just about to start. He was told in no uncertain terms that he could not carry on. He had to hand over his notes to one of the officers there.
          Not surprisingly he immediately thought that racialism had raised its ugly head. You see he is White and as you know members of your Black ANC Government have been making loud, anti-white noises lately. So much so that Professor Ben Turok, an MP and long time ANC stalwart stated openly that these "crude reference to race reinforce the perception that we are moving away from a non-racial society towards a Black republic."                                       
Needless to say Turok is also White.  

          So which is it Vice Admiral Mudimu, racialism or one of those bungles that your Navy has become famous for?
          "Nobody tells me what's going on," Fielding told me. " It's very worrying." He added that he had written to the Admiral and I assume that means you.
          Fielding is such a loyal Navy supporter that even after the way he had been treated he offered to mark projects at no fee.
          However Commander Keith Abrahams, who is in charge of the Staff College, tells me that everything is hunky-dory. 
         It was all caused by an administrative glitch while they were waiting for the latest approved guest lecturer's list to be finalised.
          Fielding, he assured me, was on the new list and would be getting his money. The key question Vice Admiral sir is…. WHEN?
            The ability to communicate clearly, I would say, is essential to any well run force and more especially a navy as you have the sea to contend with as well as any enemy that you might be facing.
          So imagine what could happen without the likes of Fielding to train your officers. You could get a communication like this:
          'Sir we’ve just lost another one of our submarines. A dive order was given and due to a communication glitch somebody left the hatch open. I’m afraid that we have to put it down to the fact that communication lectures had to be abandoned because we couldn’t get anybody who was prepared to work for nothing.'
          Yours sincerely,
          Jon, who once paddled a  dugout canoe down the Congo River.
P.S. Admiral I was wondering whether you’ve every captained a ship or commanded a sub. I see on the Navy’s website that you joined the ANC in 1975 and served in its army in exile set up to topple the White, apartheid Government that was in power at the time. And you received your military training in central Africa, East Germany and the Soviet Union.

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