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.
Jacob Zuma said today that he will not withdraw his multi-million Rand defamation case against several media outlets. Addressing the Cape Town Press Club, he complained
“You cannot tell me that the media has the right to take the place of judges, and actually try people and say, ‘This one is guilty.'” Zuma said he had gone to court, a judge looked at the facts before him and found him not guilty, but “you guys continued to find me guilty”.
I am not aware of anyone in the media pronouncing Mr Zuma guilty of a crime. He might still be convicted of fraud and corruption like his former financial advisor Shabir Shaik, but for now he is not a convicted criminal.
This does not mean that in the court of public opinion he cannot be judged by his actions and associations. Mr Zuma does not seem to understand that in a constitutional democracy the media has a right – no a duty – to be critical of politicians who behave like fools and charlatans. This in no way infringes on that politician’s constitutional right to be presumed innocent by a court of law.
We do not need a court to tell us that Mr Zuma should not be President. We know a person who takes money from a convicted crook and then does favours for him is bad news. We know that a man who exploits his position of power and influence to have sex with a vulnerable women – a daughter of a comrade – who is a third his age, is not worthy of our respect.
It has nothing to do with criminal guilt and everything to do with basic common sense. Now, if only Swelenzima Vavi and Blade Nzimande could get a common sense transplant and realize that they are hurting the progressive cause by their support for Mr Zuma, we might actually get an ANC President in December that we deserve.