Constitutional Hill

Who is being brave?

What is a journalist to do when he or she is sued for defamation and the company or individual pursuing the defamation case demands that the journalist reveals his or her confidential sources on which the reporter relied when writing the alleged defamatory story? This is exactly what happened to Adriaan Basson when he was still working at the Mail & Guardian.

A company called Bosasa is suing Basson and the Mail & Guardian for publishing a story headed: “Very brave for a young man”. The article relates the facts around a chilling phone call received by Basson from communication strategist Benedicta Dube. Basson was perturbed by the phone call because it transpired that Dube knew where and what Basson had studied, where he was born, and what his ID number was. She also read to him the names of some of Basson’s friends and their professions. During their conversation of almost 18 minutes Dube also threw in lines such as: “You are very brave for a young man” and said she would “kill” Basson if he told anyone about their conversation. She has not sued Basson for reporting this phone call, so one must assume that his version of the phone call is true, which is kind of scary.

Bosasa did sue, because in the article Basson claims that he had exposed in the Mail & Guardian over a period of three weeks “the corrupt relationship between facilities management company Bosasa and the Department of Correctional Services”. Bosasa did not like being called corrupt (or perhaps it is the claim that the corruption originated from a relationship with the Department of Correctional Services that got them upset) and as part of its pre-trial manoeuvres, it demanded some documents from Basson and the Mail & Guardian. They provided the relevant documents but with the names of their sources redacted.

In a preliminary legal skirmish the parties asked the South Gauteng High Court to determine whether Basson and the Mail & Guardian had a legal right to protect their sources in this way – despite having a defamation case brought against it. In a judgment written by Tsoka J, which seems to deal with the potentially dry legal question of the correct interpretation of Rule 35 of the Uniform Rules of Court, the learned judge made an important ruling in defence of the freedom of the media.

Sub rule 2 of Rule 35 states that a party is not expected to produce documents or tape recordings “in respect of which he has a valid objection”. Tsoka pointed out that all the relevant documents were indeed disclosed. The only question was whether Basson and the Mail & Guardian had a valid objection against revealing the names of their sources. The Rule, said the judge, had to be interpreted in the light of section 16 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the media. Bosasa claimed that if it were denied access to the names of the confidential sources its right to a fair trial would be infringed.

As an aside: the latter claim by Bosasa is a peculiar, one might think perhaps a Freudian, slip on the part of Bosasa as it is not facing criminal charges and its right to a fair trial is thus not implicated at all. This is a civil case in which it is claiming damages from Basson and the Mail & Guardian for alleged defamation for damage to its reputation. (Basson and the newspaper claims, rather cheekily, that Bosasa has no reputation that could have been damaged by the article as the company is widely associated with corrupt activities.)

Tsoka J, quoting extensively from the important Constitutional Court case in Khumalo v Holomisa, emphasised the important role played by the print, broadcast and electronic media in the protection of freedom of expression in our society. The media are key agents in ensuring that the right to freedom of expression is enjoyed by all citizens. The ability of each citizen to be a responsible and effective member of our society depends upon the manner in which the media carry out their constitutional mandate. The media are also important agents in ensuring that government is open, responsive and accountable to the people as the founding values of our Constitution require.

In order for the media to do its job, it is imperative that journalists are able to keep their sources confidential. In the absence of a guarantee of confidentiality, many sources would not co-operate with the media and ordinary citizens would be the poorer for it.

Tsoka then looked at the facts of the present case, noting that the contention between the parties is not whether the Mail and Guardian had acted with malice. It was therefore not relevant to its case who the confidential sources of the allegations of corruption were. The story was either true or it was untrue. The judge also rejected arguments that an Australian case which found that a journalist had to reveal his sources had to be applied here, presenting several arguments to justify this rejection. To my mind the best argument raised by the judge why the Australian judgment would not help Bosasa is neatly captured in the following statement by Tsoka J: “In any event, there is no Bill of Rights in Australia.” How it warmed my heart to read those words.

In any case, Tsoka found that the issue in each case would be whether the names of the sources would be pivotal to the case made by the party suing for defamation. Given the fact that Bosasa has to prove that the statements are defamatory and that Basson and the Mail & Guardian then has the onus to show that its defences against a claim of defamation is valid, the names of the newspaper’s sources at this stage is wholly irrelevant. The sources are allegedly employed by Bosasa and are fearful of reprisal, should their identities be revealed. As Bosasa has a duty to deal with the question of whether the allegations made are true or false, it is neither here nor there who the sources are who gave the information to the newspaper.

Although there is not a blanket journalistic privilege never to reveal one’s sources when one is sued for defamation to the contrary, in this case the sources should be protected as their identities are not central to the case and as they exercised a “laudable civic duty” by acting as whistle-blowers in a case of alleged corruption involving the state. The case may be different where a journalist receives information about the commission or pending commission of a serious crime, a journalist would be foolhardy to claim that it had to protect its sources providing such information. But this is not such a case.

Reading the judgment I could not help but wonder about the possible Oscar Wilde effect in a case like this where an institution like Bosasa sues a newspaper for defamation. Had Bosasa considered the risk it is taking? What happens if, during the trial, it becomes clear that the company was indeed embroiled in a corrupt relationship with the Department of Correctional Services? Has the Directors considered the risk of being arrested for corruption if this were to happen?

And why is Bosasa so adamant about getting accesses to the names of those who had leaked information to the Mail & Guardian? Is there any connection between this eagerness of the company to obtain this information and the implicit threat made to Adriaan Basson that he might get killed for investigating Bosasa? As things stand, this case has already been damaging to Bosasa as it has placed some doubt in the minds of reasonable individuals about its behaviour. It might not be corrupt (and this will only be ascertained during the trial), but has it not shot itself in the foot by its heavy handed legal approach to the case?

Is Bosasa and its directors the ones being brave for taking on the Mail & Guardian? After all, cross examination can often be devastating to those who try to hide things. Only time will tell.

  • Piet Opperman

    The second paragraph needs some serious editing. It has been rendered almost incomprehensible by (I suspect) a combination of “copy and paste” and “global replace.”
    Otherwise excellent article.
    As Oscar Wilde (and Jeffrey Archer) discovered suing for slander is not a step to be taken lightly.

  • malome tom

    what if the source deliberately falsified their statements to the the m&g? is it not in the interest of justice to have the ‘accused’ have full access to counter the veracity of what was published. especially as you state above; all that needed to be proved was whether the published facts were true or not.

    this is especially true because m&g relied mainly (if not solely) on the bossassa source(s) to establish its story, the basis of which bossassa is challenging. in other words how does a plaintiff fully establish its case if it can’t fully utilize the tools of litigation and evidence?

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Tom

    If these were deliberately falsified,surely Bosasa should be in a position to provide the true version and only then can the source be exposed and motive established.

  • malome tom


    you’re making my argument: for bosasa to be in a position to provide a so-called true version and to discredit the veracity of what was published, it may need to access the person(s) who made the allegedly untruthful statements, especially given the fact the said statements are the main basis for the article. but i haven’t yet read the full case. to answer your question, bosasa lawyers would have potentially needed full access to the individuals who made the statements. once again, im speculating so im merely highlighting principal

  • Andrew

    malome tom says:
    May 2, 2012 at 14:16 pm

    Gwebecimele says:
    May 2, 2012 at 14:33 pm

    malome tom says:
    May 2, 2012 at 15:25 pm

    Malome, truth is also a defense in defamation cases. The source is irrelevant. All that is required is that bosasa place before the court the ‘truth’ as it sees it and if the judge agrees with its version, well M&G will be made to pay.

    The truth is not dependent on who disclosed the info.

  • malome tom

    Andrew: truth is not an absolute defense in defamation cases. but that’s another argument entirely…

    all i’m saying is that if the main basis of that article was the whistleblower(s)’ statements then bosasa would have wanted full access to them and their statements, representation, truths, lies etc to be in a position to adequately challenge the m&g representations. verifying those statements as truth could very much be dependent on who disclosed them. simple

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    malome tom
    May 2, 2012 at 14:16 pm

    Hey MT,

    “what if the source deliberately falsified their statements to the the m&g?”

    Eish – that’s a hard one.

    Could it be that the Bosasa action against the M&G and Basson would then succeed?

  • OCMoses

    the Protection of the whistleblower is laudible. If you know and had dealings with its management of Bosasa and spoken to staff members, firing a whistleblower and paying for an automatically unfair dismissal is a small price to pay for retaining tenders. If I read between the lines the real reason for Bosasa to bring this matter forward is to purge “rogue employees” and not really to deal with a defamation case. Unfortunately the current whistleblowing legislation is being circumvented by companies that can pay the “fine” for the dismissal easily.

    i am sure that Bosasa will withdraw the defamation claims soon.

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    “Who is being brave?”

    Why, Clem Sunter of course.

    Smart guy.

    Scenario planner.

    Other clever things too.

    Went to a graduate school which impresses White people (just like Dmwangi).

    Out guessed the USA’s FBI.

    And more.

    On balance, I have decided to get an e-tag and register an e-toll account which I will regularly top up with the necessary amount of cash.

    Good on you Mr Clem.

    I wrote an original poem just for you!

    “IF you can buy an e-tag when most about you
    Are refusing and blaming shady schemes,
    If you can trust SANRAL when all men doubt them,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can NOT wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet look too good, talk too wise …”

    Keep topping up enough for the millions of cars which will be using the Gauteng freeways but refuse to e-tag!

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Thank you,” Rudyard” Maggs, for those stirring words.

    BTW, do you happen to know Minister Patel? Reason is I want him to be the keynote speaker at the launch of our new “satellite” blog – a gala event to be held at the Mill Park Holiday Inn in late August. (Would you, too, say a few words?)

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 2, 2012 at 23:06 pm

    Hey Dworky,

    It’s good news that your starting “Constitutionally Speaking with a Vengeance”!

    Min Patel – no idea. Where’s he from? What does he do?

    But I think a must have speaker is Mr Clem “E-tag” Sunter who can speak about “NO-More-Mr-Nice-Guy”, alternatively “Buy your TV Licence E-TAG; it’s the right thing to do.”

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Maggs

    The mining communities of Zambia and South Africa are forever proud of his contributions and wealth. In all his working life, he has been very consistent about his loyalties and placed the small man in his rightful place.

    We should also apologise for delaying him on the roads when he is rushing to his important engagements.

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Tom

    Cmon Malome, there must be a sequence of events here.

    What is Bosasa version of the truth?

    Can we safely say the sources and SIU versions are the only truth for now?

    Andrew is right, the source is irrelevant until we have another version of the truth.

  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele
  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    LOL @ the ANC under Zuma!

    Since his reinstatement, controversial crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli has been granted extra powers to spy on emails, phone calls and text messages.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Malome Tom is right.

    I have never said of Thabo Mbeki that he was a great President. But he had a point when he spoke of “fishers of corrupt men.” In this sense, the liberal’s great flagship, the M&G, is more or less the equivalent of I&J’s fleet of ocean-going trawlers!


  • sirjay jonson

    A comment by Terry Crawford-Browne on Thu, 3 May 2012 at 14:24

    … on Daily Maverick today, re:

    Definitely a brave man. As follows:

    “As I reported on page 13 in my book Eye On The Money published in 2007, the arms deal was just the tip of the iceberg that concerned oil deals, the taxi re-capitalisation process, TOLL ROADS, drivers’ licences, Cell C, the Coega development, diamond and drug smuggling, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.
    The arms deal was then as much as I could handle. The common denominator with all these scams was 10% kickback to the ANC in return for political protection.
    The main whistleblower, Bheki Jacobs died in 2008 under suspicious circumstances. My sequel book, Eye On The Diamonds was the focus of three excerpts published by the Independent Newspapers this past weekend. The book is now in the bookshops, and is dedicated to Bheki who gave his life for this country to expose the corruption that the arms deal unleashed.
    I have however, this morning attended the Defence Review 2012 civil society consultation in Cape Town. This is the next arms deal scandal, which will eclipse the 1999 arms deal scandal unless we put a stop to it. My colleagues have already identified 54 issues that we believe are unconstitutional. It is a recipe for militarised dictatorship and massive corruption under the guise of a “developmental state”.”

  • sirjay jonson

    The plot settles.

    In case you’ve missed it, see also:

    … including likely connections with arms deal bribery and fraud. Many folk don’t know that the nuclear game is even hotter than arms of violence, and that as we know is already around the proverbial corner.

    If its all designed as development, the question begs… development for who.

    I’ve always believed its all about ‘turf’ and who takes it. Pity, South Africa could be a truly phenomenal country.

    Fortes fortuna iuvat.

  • joeslis

    @ sirjay

    “The plot settles.”

    Plots don’t settle, sirjay. They sicken.

  • sirjay jonson


    ‘Settles’, as in ‘firmly established’, comfortably at peace with itself, a given, the status quo, inevitability cemented in place.

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:14 am


    Mr E-tag Sunter can top up his account enough to pay the employees of Sanral who were employed to “administer”!

  • sirjay jonson

    I think your blog title ‘Who is Being Brave?’ is actually very apt Prof. Apt as in bravery is something many of us need to consider. Take Mdluli for example. Who among us isn’t concerned? Are we really willing to accept this man holding the position he does? Or that he advances in his corrupted power? Is he not the epitome of vile viciousness and most obviously criminal? Are we brave enough to confront him? I admit for one that I’m not.

    I note there is really only limited news reporting about facts on Mdluli, such as charges, allegations. Few apart from you Prof, and Justice Malala, are actually commenting with vigor about the danger of such a development. Should we not all be expressing absolute horror at his growing power?

    Then again, knowing as we do that much is being scrutinized, watched, logged, filed, especially of anything which is critical, my reading is that many of us, including myself are self censoring.

    So who are the brave? Fortunately we can identify some quite easily. What support will we give them, those who risk life, limb, career, family, political position, or suffer economic devastation? The struggle was once against apartheid, an honorable fight, the good fight. I think we all know what the struggle is now, and its equally honorable, equally a good fight, since we know without question how important this fight is for our fledgling Democracy, our lives, our families, our descendants and the future of South Africa.

    So who are the brave? And how soon will the disappearances start?

  • Brett Nortje

    Words you will not see under Pierre’s ‘moral inferiority’ blog are ‘world view’ or any discussion on whether the world view of the 18th century potentates is a fairly representative, prevailing one.

    You see, attributing white guilt and whiteliness to whites is morally and intellectually justifiable. Attributing 6 million HIV infections or 500 000 homicides or the looting that continues under the kleptocracy the New South Africa has been turned into to all black people would be racist, generalisations.

    Brave? Debunking myths about AIDS or land acquisition is brave…Exposing corruption is brave… Going against prevailing public opinion is brave….

    Methinks Pierre lacked the gameness to expose one of the above.

    Who said that during times of universal deceit speaking the truth is a revolutionary act?

  • Brett Nortje

    Godless, shameless ANC!

    WHY, indeed?

    What a bunch of assclowns!

    EDITORIAL OPINION: Desperate at the top

    It is not always clear who runs President Jacob Zuma’s strange republic due to a poverty of political leadership in the country

    Published: 2012/05/04 06:43:24 AM

    NO TWO recent events better illustrate the poverty of political leadership in South Africa than the reinstatement of Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli as the police’s crime intelligence head despite a raft of charges and allegations around him, and the casual way in which the African National Congress (ANC) and labour federation Cosatu last week “agreed” to delay e-tolling in Gauteng for a month while government lawyers were arguing in court that such a delay would be a disaster.

    This is President Jacob Zuma ‘s strange republic at work, a place where politics trumps principle, the reputations of the state and its officers are of little account and where no price is too high to pay for the re-election of Mr Zuma as head of his party this year and of the country in 2014.

    Is the president laughing at us? The police force leadership is in tatters as his man, Lt-Gen Mdluli, acquires new powers at a dizzying speed — one day it is control over VIP protection (all the police who guard ministers and can thus tell him who they’ve been seeing), the next he becomes the only policeman in the land able to sanction a wire tap. South Africa’s credit rating is being directly threatened by Mr Zuma’s leadership on the Sanral issue. He must have sanctioned the party-union meeting despite knowing his finance minister would be left humiliated by any decision to delay the start of e-tolling.
    It was entirely predictable that Cosatu’s political star would rise this year, after the ANC Youth League’s falling out with the party’s leadership.
    Without Cosatu’s backing Mr Zuma has little chance of being re-elected at the ANC’s conference at Mangaung in December. And, if he loses his grip on the levers of power, the odds are that the fraud and corruption charges that were controversially withdrawn shortly before the 2009 election that elevated him to the Presidency, could be reinstated.

    Mr Zuma is acutely aware of how much he needs Cosatu. More important, Cosatu’s wily general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, knows it too. That is why, in contrast to 2007 when the union federation threw its weight behind Mr Zuma as part of a successful effort to oust Thabo Mbeki as ANC president at Polokwane, it now refuses to pin its colours to the mast during the buildup to Mangaung.

    Cosatu felt let down by the Zuma administration after the much-debated “lurch to the left” at Polokwane was limited by the practicalities of governance, Mr Zuma’s need to placate a range of constituencies with contradictory demands, and intense lobbying by the youth league as representative of the party’s growing African nationalist faction. Cosatu is not about to make the same mistake twice — Mr Zuma is going to have to deliver the goods before he gets paid off this time.

    This, of course, is how politics works the world over. But the fact that it is not unusual does not mean its profoundly negative economic, political and constitutional consequences should not be exposed. And, such political expediency cannot be allowed to legitimise a cynical abuse of state institutions for party or individual benefit. There is, unfortunately, mounting evidence of both occurring in South Africa at present.

    The government’s botched implementation of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project provided Cosatu with an ideal opportunity to flex its muscles. Since public transport was excluded from the e-tolling system, the vast majority of the revenue that would have been collected would have come from businesses and the wealthier 40% of Gauteng’s population, not predominantly from the “workers” Cosatu counts as its constituency.

    Nevertheless, the toll road concept is unpopular across class groups in Gauteng, and just days before the e-toll gantries were scheduled to go live on May 1, Cosatu strong-armed the ANC into “discussions” on the issue with the threat of a national strike. With not even a pretence of differentiating between party and state, the ANC caved in and announced that the launch would be delayed by a month for further consultation.

    That the high court granted an urgent interdict against the implementation of the system subject to a full review only hours later, does not change the fact that the ANC blinked first. Even as state lawyers were arguing that delaying it would be financially disastrous, the party was glibly humiliating Pravin Gordhan by elevating the political interests of one of its factions above the Treasury’s standing.

    Similarly, while it is abundantly clear that the inflexibility of the labour market is preventing businesses from hiring more young people in particular, this does not suit Cosatu’s agenda of defending existing workers’ rights at all costs. Hence its loud opposition to the proposed labour law amendments that are now before Parliament.

    It emerged earlier in the week that another cozy “discussion” with the ANC has resulted in agreement that clauses requiring that ballots be held before strikes can begin, and expanding the list of essential service work categories whose right to strike is limited, will be scrapped. If this is endorsed by ANC MPs it will make a complete mockery of the long negotiation process recently in the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

    The question should be asked: who runs this country? The democratically elected government, a particular faction of the ruling party, or Cosatu? Or is it the small group of securocrats Mr Zuma has surrounded himself with in his desperate bid to keep out of the courts?

    The vicious power struggle that is playing out at present between police management, crime intelligence and the prosecuting authorities is a chilling reminder that the abuse of state institutions that was ostensibly Cosatu’s prime motivation for removing Mr Mbeki, has got worse, not better, under Mr Zuma.

    The manner in which investigations into the alleged criminal activities of Lt-Gen Mdluli have repeatedly been stymied, and those trying to follow due process have been undermined, points to political intervention at the highest level. The situation has become untenable — a prosecutor has been shot at; the very future of the rule of law and democratic accountability is at stake.
    Yet Lt-Gen Mdluli has not only been reinstated to his powerful position, but it emerges he has been handed sole responsibility for the police’s covert phone-tapping activities. It was just such an intelligence tape that was used — almost certainly illegally — by Mr Zuma’s lawyers to persuade prosecutors to drop the corruption charges he faced.

    The flagrant disregard for the constitutional safeguards that are supposed to check individual power in our democracy has got to stop before irreparable damage is done.

    But it is clear it won’t be Mr Zuma who does the stopping. Why do other senior ANC leaders sit on their hands while the freedom they fought for is sacrificed to save one man’s skin?

    Like Cosatu, they are apparently hedging their bets as they manoeuvre in preparation for the showdown at the end of the year. But by then it could be too late for them and South Africa. They have a tiger by the tail and will have to be extremely agile if they wish to avoid being eaten as soon as they have outlived their usefulness.

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Brett Nortje
    May 4, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Hey G,

    What are you going on about?

    You were getting better now you’re getting like Dmwangi.


  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Mnisi said: “In terms of these other allegations, the presidency and the executive do not involve themselves in operational matters such as the appointment or suspension of South African Police Service managers.”

    Or more likely, they are fucking mad!!!!!!!!

  • Brett Nortje

    This is going to cause kak. Lets at least let them know they have our respect for what they’re doing.

    “The Mail & Guardian has established that the Hawks has continued to investigate the high-ranking cop without his knowledge, on the basis that when there is alleged criminality, the unit has a constitutional obligation to investigate.”

    The question is (and no-one who refused to take notice when I questioned the fact that he has never audited implementation of the FCA need answer):

    ‘Does the Auditor-General have a day job’?

  • Brett Nortje

    The second question to be asked is:

    What do the ladies on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Police do?

    Their nails?

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Brett Nortje
    May 4, 2012 at 9:55 am


    “and no-one who refused to take notice when I questioned the fact that he has never audited implementation of the FCA need answer”.

    That must leave only you to answer then!

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Hey Brett,

    Wanna buy the SANDF?

    It’s going cheap, cos it’s pretty useless, not in working condition, hardly used probably not useable.

  • Brett Nortje

    Vulnerable to whom?

    An angry Mswati if mwangi buys Zuma a bigger jet than his?

    Read that pencil-necked gun grabber Crawfordbrown above.

  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele

    @ Maggs

    Fast forward to yesterday and can someone ask Mnisi to repeat his statement.

    Mnisi said: “In terms of these other allegations, the presidency and the executive do not involve themselves in operational matters such as the appointment or suspension of South African Police Service managers.”

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    May 10, 2012 at 13:56 pm

    Gwebs – it seems that no one appointed Mduli.

    The national Commissioner is not taking responsibility, neither is the Minister.

    So WTF appointed him to head Crime Intelligence in the SAPS?????

  • Gwebecimele
  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    May 10, 2012 at 13:56 pm


    “In terms of these other allegations, the presidency and the executive do not involve themselves in operational matters such as the appointment or suspension of South African Police Service managers.”

    It seems that Minister Cwele has an opposing view.

    Cwele said the decision to move Mdluli was Mthethwa’s>/b>, but he agreed that a bitter public spat between the lieutenant general and other top brass had become damaging.

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Some steps in the right direction, unless “such disclosure reveals criminal activity” means nothing.

    Somebody please unpack that!

    Cape Town – The African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday moved to protect journalists and whistleblowers as part of a raft of proposed changes to the protection of state information bill, which is arguably the most contested legislation since the end of apartheid.

    These ruling party proposed a compromise on a public interest defence as a way of protecting those who risk prison to expose state wrongdoing.

    ANC members of the National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc committee processing the bill proposed that section 43, which criminalises revealing classified information, made an explicit exception for cases where “such disclosure reveals criminal activity”.

  • Maggs Naidu – Zuma must go!

    Who is being brave?

    Judith February!

    The past year will also be remembered for what may well become the most defining appointment of Zuma’s first term, that of Mogoeng Mogoeng as chief justice. Clearly unsuited for the position, Justice Mogoeng was catapulted to the top job in controversial circumstances. The appointment was made against the backdrop of criticism by the president himself of the courts and their role in a democracy.

    It is also obvious that the intelligence agencies are themselves embroiled in a power struggle that appears to go to the very heart of the administration, in the midst of which the president himself seems to be caught. Equally, the SAPS has been drawn into a political battle as the president has sought to install a junior with a dubious record.