Quote of the week

Mr Zuma is no ordinary litigant. He is the former President of the Republic, who remains a public figure and continues to wield significant political influence, while acting as an example to his supporters… He has a great deal of power to incite others to similarly defy court orders because his actions and any consequences, or lack thereof, are being closely observed by the public. If his conduct is met with impunity, he will do significant damage to the rule of law. As this Court noted in Mamabolo, “[n]o one familiar with our history can be unaware of the very special need to preserve the integrity of the rule of law”. Mr Zuma is subject to the laws of the Republic. No person enjoys exclusion or exemption from the sovereignty of our laws… It would be antithetical to the value of accountability if those who once held high office are not bound by the law.

Khampepe j
Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State v Zuma and Others (CCT 52/21) [2021] ZACC 18
6 June 2012

The silence of the lambs

Who is protecting Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, why are they protecting him and why are so many supposedly good people silent about the dangerous abuse of power by those who have been protecting the former apartheid collaborator?

Why is the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma being so evasive about the matter (and I am being kind to them all), absurdly protesting that Mdluli’s case is a mere operational matter to be dealt with by the Police Commissioner and of no public importance? Why has Mthetwha not been fired by the President and why has the President not taken any action regarding the Mdluli affair, despite evidence that Mthethwa interfered in the Mdluli affair and that he benefited from a slush fund controlled by Mdluli? Why has the President declined to comment on the Mdluli affair when he is supposed to be the head of the cabinet? Is it perhaps that the President is trying to save Mdluli while also protecting himself from being contaminated by the stench of murder and corruption hanging over the former apartheid cop?

I smell a rat, especially after Gwede Mantashe made the astonishing claim – clearly not borne out by the proven facts – that this case is about a lowly civil servant which we should not be worried about. “Why should the case of a civil servant who is in trouble in his department become a national matter?” he asked at a news briefing following the party’s national executive committee meeting. “Why should it be elevated to a national question?”

This kind of talk is insulting to the intelligence of every member of the ANC and the broader South African public and, quite frankly, breath-taking in its stupidity. If Mantashe cannot see that the Mdluli saga has become a symbol of everything that is rotten and dangerous about the current leadership of the ANC (of which he and President Zuma are the two most powerful members) then he is not the sharpest tool in the shed – something which I do not believe for a second. The alternative explanation is that Mantashe knows this scandal and the rottenness it represents goes to the heart of the Zuma administration and he is trying to divert our attention from it.

Does the Mdluli saga not suggest that some among us (as one of President Zuma’s former political foes used to say) will shamelessly involve an apartheid cop suspected of murder and fraud to fight their dirty battles, abusing the intelligence service in the process? Does it mean that some among us would be prepared to pervert constitutional institutions like the NPA and by destroying their credibility and independence, all in an effort to sabotage their political opponents inside the ANC and to protect themselves from who knows what political or legal problems? Does it not raise serious questions about whether President Zuma and those around him are not merely incompetent, but also dishonest and dangerous?

After all, we know that Mthethwa chaired the Committee which appointed Mdluli (side-lining the then acting Police Commissioner in the process), so any claim that this Mdluli’s appointment and suspension is an operational matter with which Mthethwa and the Cabinet have nothing to do is demonstrably false. We also know that Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela had conceded that acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi had, on the orders of Mthethwa, instructed the Hawks to halt all investigations involving the crime intelligence department. This was later confirmed by Mkhwanazi who told a newspaper that he was told not to investigate Mdluli. He was apparently summoned to a meeting with Mthethwa in March, where he was told not to continue with the charges.

We further know that Mdluli had written a letter to Zuma alleging a conspiracy against Zuma by various people inside the government and pledging his loyalty to Zuma’s bid to be re-elected as President of the ANC (a re-election that is pivotal for Zuma so as to ensure that he is not re-charged with corruption).

Remember, President Zuma’s financial adviser was convicted of soliciting a bribe on behalf of Zuma and of bribing Zuma. These facts are not in dispute. The court has found that Zuma took bribes: all that has not been established yet by a court of law (because the case against him was unlawfully dropped) is whether he had the necessary criminal intention when he took the bribes to secure a criminal conviction against him.

Zuma’s office (but not Zuma himself) denied receiving such a letter, which either means that our President allowed his office to lie to the public or that the letter is a fake or that it was never sent to the President. But here is the strange thing, a copy of the letter was published in the newspaper several weeks ago and for several weeks elicited no response from the President. It was only when the political heat around Mdluli became too much that the presidency denied ever receiving the letter. Why this long delay? Could it be that the denial is not based on solid factual grounds? After all, we know that Zuma has previously misled Parliament when he was asked whether he had met with a representative of an arms deal company (he claimed he did not, when the evidence later showed that he did), so one cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that the President will once again be prepared to lie to the public to save his political career and to remain out of jail.

Mdluli was first arrested for murder as well as intimidation, kidnapping, assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice. On 20 September 2011 General Mdluli was also arrested and charged with fraud, theft and corruption, as well as money laundering with respect to the misuse of a slush fund, which the newspapers later reported was also corruptly used to pay for improvements to Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s house (the newspaper produced documents to back up this allegation). Yet strangely Mthethwa is still in his post as the Minister of Police despite being implicated in serious corruption with an apartheid cop who has been charged with murder and fraud.

We also know that Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi who is the head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit within the National Prosecuting Authority dropped fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli on the spurious basis that Mdluli was untouchable because he was a member of the Intelligence Service. “Whether there was evidence [against Mdluli] or not, is in my view, not important for my decision in this matter,” Mrwebi reportedly said. Why did Mrwebi protect Mdluli in this manner? Mrwebi was appointed to his position late last year by none other than President Jacob Zuma, the same man who had appointed Menzi Simelane as head of the National Prosecuting Authority despite the fact that the very report used by the government to fire the previous head of the NPA had found that Simelane is a dishonest and unreliable person. Mrwebi’s decision makes no sense in law, which leaves a strong suspicion that it was a political decision made at the behest of one or more politicians.

When the political heat became too much, Mdluli was finally “moved sideways”, before the acting Commissioner of Police re-suspended him. (This will be a lesson for Mdluli. In politics, the truly Machiavellian leaders who only act in their own interests will ditch you when you become a political liability.)

What I do not understand is that members of the public are not more outraged by this scandal that seems to go right to the top of our government. Why are we not all demanding that Nathi Mthethwa be immediately fired as Police Minister for his scandalous interference in this affair, an affair in which he is implicated because he allegedly benefited from the crime intelligence slush fund when it was controlled by Mdluli? Why do we not ridicule and mock our President when he makes the bizarre claim that he knows nothing about the Mdluli affair and that this has nothing to do with him in any case? Why do we not demand his immediate removal from office because he is in charge of a government that has sunk so deep into the muck and dirt that no sensible person can ever respect or trust it again? (Tenderpreneurs with their noses up the backsides of the ruling clique might, however, have good reason to support the incumbents.)

Why are we silent? And when someone like Tokyo Sexwale finally starts making noises criticising the current state of affairs among the ruling faction inside the ANC, why do we treat him with amusement or disdain because he is showing too much ambition? (As if we actually believe the  fake pieties being spewed by ANC politicians who are forced to claim to have no ambition and who say they will only serve in leadership positions because they are requested to do so by the masses. If you believe that, I really have to tell you the one about the tooth fairy.) Is it because we are scared of what those in power will do to us if we raise our voices and if we ask difficult questions and demand answers from our leaders who are supposed to serve us – not themselves?

Or is it that most of the ANC members who know that the movement is being fatally wounded by the likes of Zuma are too cowardly to speak up for fear of being treated in the same manner than Julius Malema? Has it come really to this?

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