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.
This is such a grave charge that one should be careful to make it. In the past President Mbeki has always formally shown great respect for the Constitution and the law and one should not assume that he has abused his power. If it were to be true it would constitute a grave constitutional crisis because the President would have interfered with the working of the prosecuting authority and would have prevented it from exercising its powers “without fear favour or prejudice” as guaranteed by the Constitution.
It is therefore absolutely imperitave that the the President speaks to the nation immediately to dispell these ugly rumours. Every day that he allows the rumours to swirl, is a day in which we are forced to come closer to the conclusion that our President is not a true constitutionalist and that he would be prepared to abuse his power to interfere with the workings of the criminal justice system. This would confirm all the conspiracy theories bandied about by the Zuma supporters and could easily set us on a very dangerous path towards disrespect for the Rule of Law.
If the rumours are all untrue and the President assures us accordingly, then the harm could be minimised. If he fails to dispell the rumours, then he would at best have shown utter contempt for both us, the electorate, and the constitution which requires him to uphold and protect its provisions. His silence is undermining the constitution and our respect of it.
As I am out of the country (in Amsterdam) I might be missing something – why are people not more upset, toyi-toying in the streets, storming Parliament? – but it seems to me the continuous rumours is a real disaster and a real crisis for our young democracy. It is poisoning our political system and may do it irreparable harm because it will make us distrust our leaders and the system. If our Presidnet cannot see this, or if he thinks that he does not have to deal with it, he is not worth the name of President.
Speak to us, Mr President. We voted you into office and you owe us an explanation.