Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
30 December 2007

Jacob Zuma, the NPA and Thabo Mbeki

South Africans should ready themselves for a very rough ride as President Thabo Mbeki fights a rear-guard action against the potential Jacob Zuma Presidency. If the Sunday Times is to be believed, the big fight is only starting. The newspaper reported this morning that some members of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) is furious at Jacob Zuma’s indictment on Friday and that they are suggesting that President Thabo Mbeki is behind the decision and the timing of the decision.

I must say, for once I cannot blame the conspiracy theorists for claiming the President has had a hand in this decision. The timing seems highly suspicious. As I said earlier, given the fact that the NPA itself had announced it would make a decision on the prosecution of Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi before deciding on re-charging Mr Zuma and given the fact that we have been fed stories about the NPA waiting for the Minister of Justice to be informed of the Selebi decision before an announcement is made, it seems bizarre that the NPA decided to charge Mr Zuma now.

It seems to me that this decision was taken with an eye on 7 January when the newly elected pro-Zuma NEC is scheduled to meet for the first time. A decision was obviously taken that it would be better to have an indictment and a court date before the ANC NEC could meet because once charges are laid it is politically difficult to withdraw them. President Mbeki will now be able to go to the NEC and claim that the decision to charge Mr Zuma is out of his hands and even if he suspends the acting head of the NPA, it will make no difference because the decision was already made.

The fact that no decision has been taken on Selebi suggests however that the President is placing severe pressure on acting (air)head of the NPA Mokotedi Mpshe not to charge Selebi. And the pressure is having an effect because despite announcements that a decision was imminent on Selebi we have heard nothing. Which can only mean pressure was put on him to charge Zuma and not to charge Selebi. What surprises me is the brazenness of this move. It suggests that President Mbeki and his supporters have no scruples left and are going for broke.

The big problem is that all this is bringing the credibility of the NPA into question and that it places severe strain on the legal system. Is President Mbeki really prepared to destroy our constitutional institutions to win political battles? If yes, he is worse than even I thought.

The NEC could of course recall President Mbeki and instruct the members of the NA to elect Jacob Zuma as President and I am sure they will use that as a bargaining chip against Mbeki. What I would give to be a fly on the wall at the first NEC meeting next week!

Not that the pro-Zuma camp has anything to crow about because it is clear that Mr Zuma has a serious case to answer. He is alleged now to have taken almost R4 million from Shaik and to have done at least 28 “favours” in return. If the state can prove that there was some form of intention on the part of Mr Zuma, it would prove a clear case of corruption.

Regardless of whether Mr Zuma is ever convicted of corruption, I would ask whether ANC leaders in the NEC does not think it a strange phenomenon that a politician had taken between R1 million and R4 million from a businessman. Mr Shaik actually admitted he gave Mr Zuma money – it is only the amount that is in dispute – so I wonder whether the ANC has become so corrupt that its leaders cannot see that there is something fundamentally wrong with taking so much money from a businessman.

The fact that Mr Zuma and his supporters cannot see that this is ethically unacceptable – regardless of whether it is a crime or not – just beggars belief.

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