[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.
It might be a good idea for Cosatu’s Swelenzima Vavi, the SACP’s Blade Nzimande and those aging youngsters in the ANC Youth League leadership to take some time off from their busy schedules to read the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Shaik v The State. At the very least it should make their ears burn with embarrassment. At best, it should help them to reassess their support for Jacob Zuma and their insistence that we should not judge him in any way because he is “innocent until proven guilty”.
Yes, the Court – and interestingly enough the judgment was signed “The Court” and not as is usually the case by a single judge and then merely signed on by the other judges, thus suggesting the strong need for the Court to show unanimity in this case – is careful throughout the judgment to note that the evidence only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Shaik had had the intention to commit fraud and corruption. It is conceivable – although getting less likely – that Zuma may never be found guilty of a crime because the State may not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had the intention to be corrupted. He may argue that he was so out of touch with his finances and so naive, magnanamous and clueless that he never made the connection between the money given to him and the favours he did for Shaik.
Technically the Vavi‘s, Nzimande’s and the Mbalula’s of our political landscape are thus correct to say that just because Shaik had been convicted of corrupting Zuma does not mean Zuma is guilty of corruption. After all, corrution has a technical legal meaning and Zuma‘s conduct may not fall within this technical legal definition. Given the bumbling way in which the State’s handled the Zuma part of this case so far, it is conceivable that they never get it together to present to Court sufficient evidence that would get a Court to find beyond reasonable doubt that Zuma is guilty of the crime of corruption.
But whether Zuma is ever convicted of corruption or not, any reasonably dispassioned reading of the Shaik judgment cannot but leave a deep disquiet about the possibility of Zuma ever becoming President of the Country. Many of the most damning facts have either been found true beyond a reasonable doubt by two different courts of law or were admitted as true by Shaik. These facts include:
This means that although Zuma is not a criminal, he is a proven fibber who took more than R1 million from his “advisor” and then did many favours for the advisor by using his political office and clout. This makes Zuma ethically and politically unsavoury. More so because he has never explained any of these proven facts, always hinting only at a conspiracy.
It would be interesting to hear his answers were journalists to start asking him why he lied to Parliament, why he cooked up the loan agreement with Shaik, why he did favours for Shaik, and why he was paid more than a million bucks by Shaik at the time when he was doing these favours. They should ask it every single time they get the chance and ask again and again. Because in South Africa there is a tendency to rely on courts as the only possible judges of character, journalists need to do the hard work to remind all of us that while Zuma might not be a criminal, he is not a man that is a friend of the turth. And how would Vavi respond?BACK TO TOP