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.
It is always dangerous to predict what will happen in politics and more so when one is foolish enough to want to make predictions about the ANC Presidential succession. But I am a brave man, so I will predict that Jacob Zuma’s Presidential bid is done for.
First Mr. Zuma’s legal troubles seem to be multiplying. He recently suffered several defeats in court, which may not be relevant for his ultimate criminal innocence or guilt, but which are further tarnishing his standing in the community. Mr. Zuma’s lawyers are playing a high stakes game in which they are trying to achieve two things.
More immediately, they wish to prevent Mr. Zuma from being charged until after the December conference. This will allow Mr. Zuma to stand for President of the ANC without being an accused in a criminal case and will allow this supporters to talk darkly about a conspiracy.
In the long term, the lawyers want to wear down the less well resourced NPA by challenging its every move and admitting nothing. They hope that this scorched earth policy will allow them to claim that Mr. Zuma is a victim of state shenanigans and will also force the state into stupid mistakes.
In order to save time and money, Schabir Shaik’s lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, made many admissions on his behalf and allowed many documents to be submitted by the state because they decided challenging the authenticity of every document when some of them are clearly authentic would tarnish Mr Shaik’s credibility. Unlike Zuma, Shaik also did not have access to millions of Rand to pay his lawyers.
But with Mr. Zuma, Kemp J Kemp and his cohorts are doing exactly the opposite and the results will be predictable. In the court of public opinion, at least, people will begin to ask questions about a strategy in which obvious facts and truths are denied by the potential accused. People are already starting to ask: If Mr. Zuma is so bloody innocent, why is he so bloody desperate to stop the state from investigating the case? Even if this strategy brings legal success, it is bound to bring political ruin.
There is a second reason why, in my opinion, Mr. Zuma is done for. Despite ANC delegates deciding this race. he still needs the media to give him a platform. But it seems to me that both the print media and the electronic media – even His Masters Voice! – have now turned against him. They now either ignore him or criticise him – and the criticism is often scathing. That is why he has launched quixotic defamation actions against several newspapers: he is trying to intimidate the medi into giving him better coverage. Fat chance.
This souring of the media is nicely encapsulated in a post on Prof Anton Harber’s Blog. He contrasts the performances of President Mbeki and Jacob Zuma at the international gathering of publishers in
Goodbye Jacob. Interested in that diplomatic posting to Tjikitjikistan yet?