Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
11 August 2008

On the art of denial and the eloquence of silence….

I see MAN Ferrostaal has issued a statement about the claims by the Sunday Times that it paid a R30 million bribe to the ANC, facilitated by President Thabo Mbeki. The Sunday Times also claimed President Mbeki gave R2 million of this money to Jacob Zuma. The statement by MAN Ferrostaal reads in part:

MAN Ferrostaal never made any payments to SA President Thabo Mbeki, to Jacob Zuma or to any other member of the ANC or to any other public official. MAN Ferrostaal in addition states that the articles mentioned contain a large number of factual errors with regards to MAN Ferrostaal and therefore violates the basics of journalistic accuracy.

The statement does NOT deny that money was paid to the ANC – only that it was not paid to an individual official. If such a denial is issued by a big company it is always important to note what is being denied and what not because it will tell one what the truth might be. The fact that MAN Ferrostaal does not deny giving money to the ANC is basically an admission on its part that it did give money to the ANC. That’s all sorted out then. All we need to know now is why they gave this money, what understanding they reached with ANC leaders about the quid-pro-quo for this payment to the ANC and whether their investment was a good one for their business.

Unless I have missed it, the only person who has now not issued SOME kind of denial about the Sunday Times report is Mr. Jacob Zuma. Wonder why he is so silent. In the absence of a blanket denial from him, his silence speaks rather eloquently about his own involvement in this tawdry affair just as the Presidency’s denial that Mr. Mbeki did not benefit personally from any bribe is rather telling.

One thing is for sure: we have not yet heard the end of the arms deal. As the ANC infighting continues more people will talk. Why don’t the ANC just come out and admit they received money from arms dealers so that the bleeding can stop. The first lesson of how to deal with a scandal is to deny that which can be denied, admit the rest, apologise to the nation and move on. The silence just breeds suspicion and the bleeding will continue.

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