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)
8 February 2007

Zuma still innocent – but tainted

Jacob Zuma’s lawyers will today file papers in court opposing the NPA’s request for the release of the documents from Mauritius. The documents apparently show that Zuma met with French Arms company executive Alain Thetard and Schabir Shaik in Durban on 11 March 2000.

As a legal matter, Zuma and his lawyers are of course perfectly within their rights to oppose the request because if admitted the documents could help convict Zuma and send him to jail for 15 years.

As a political matter though, I am surprised that no one is asking why Mr Zuma would want to oppose an application for a release of the documents. If he is innocent as he professes, he surely would be glad for all the relevant documents to be placed before a court because it could only prove his innocence.

By opposing this application he places himself in a politically awakward position, because it suggests that there is something to hide.

Unfortunately Mr Zuma and his supporters have so bamboozled commentators and the general public with their bleetings about being innocent until proven guilty, that few people are prepared to make a political or ethical judgment against Mr Zuma before he is actually convicted of a crime.

Plain common sense tells me that Mr Zuma might still be innocent, but that he is decidedly not untainted by the criminal investigation and his response to it.

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