Quote of the week

[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.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
17 November 2006

Vavi’s folly

Zwelenzima Vavi will clutch at anything to perpetuate the story that Jacob Zuma is the victim of some dark conspiracy. In a column in in the Mail & Guardian today he reiterates his call for the five judges of the SCA in the Shaik verdict to be fired. He also argues that they should apologise to Jacob Zuma because they prejudiced him and presented him “in a negative light”.

Then comes the clincher:

They are covering up their mistake by introducing a new form of judge-made law, which redefines the now false finding of a “generally corrupt relationship” with one of “mutually beneficial symbiosis” between the two men.

This seems to mean that all the courts have to prove in a corruption trial is that you did some favours and received some other favours. They don’t have to show that any favour corresponded to any particular other favour.

From this statement it is clear that Vavi should stick to organising workers and irritating President Mbeki because he is not going to be a sucecss at giving legal advice. Like the SCA judges he vilifies, he seems also not to have read either the Squires or the SCA judgments.

From these judgments it is clear that to prove corruption in South Africa one does not have to show that a specific payment or “favour” from the corruptor induced the counter “favour” from the corruptee. To require this would be to narrow down the scope of corruption to a degree that would make it almost impossible to convict corrupt officials involved in an ongoing scheme of corruption.

Both Squires and the SCA made this very clear in their judgments.

Its the very nature of the relationship between Shaik and Zuma that a generally corrupt relationship developed between them. All the evidence proven beyond reasonable doubt – according to two sets of judges – make clear that Shaik gave money to Zuma and Zuma did favours for him. Shaik did this with the intention to corrupt Zuma.

The only question is whether Zuma had a corrupt intention when he engaged with Shaik in these exchanges of “favours”. He might not have had a corrupt intention because he was so stupid or naive that he thought Shaik gave him the money out of friendship and he did favours for Shaik not because he had been paid more than a million but just because he’s such an unbelievably nice and generous guy.

Yes, and father Christmas lives.

It is therefore not the courts and the media that is putting Zuma in a bad light. It is Zuma (and Shaik) that is putting Zuma in a bad light. Come to think of it, with the kind of uninformed prattle published in the Mail & Guardian, Vavi is not doing Zuma’s any favours either.

What Mr Vavi might want to consider is whether he really wants a President who takes more than a million Rand from a convicted crook and then do favours for him. Whether it is a convictable form of corruption or not, it is ethically disgusting.

Surely that is a bad thing? Or has Vavi changed his mind on corruption?

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