Let’s deal with the rot within le­gal bound­aries

African Times - - Leader -

THE an­nounce­ment that for­mer Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will have his day in court over cor­rup­tion-re­lated charges evoked dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions from dif­fer­ent quar­ters. Whilst oth­ers be­lieve op­po­si­tion par­ties will ex­ploit the sit­u­a­tion to their ad­van­tage, the ANC re­mained cau­tious in its re­sponse – maybe for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. The state­ment re­leased by the ANC Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral was brief: “The African Na­tional Congress (ANC) has noted the de­ci­sion of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) to re­in­state charges of cor­rup­tion against the for­mer Pres­i­dent of the ANC and the Repub­lic of South Africa, Com­rade Ja­cob Zuma.

“The ANC reaf­firms its con­fi­dence in our coun­try’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and our re­spect for the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary. We equally af­firm our com­mit­ment to the con­sti­tu­tion­ally en­shrined prin­ci­ple of equal­ity of all be­fore the law. Ac­cord­ingly, we call on South Africans at large to af­ford the NPA space to con­duct its work un­hin­dered, we con­tinue to as­sert the in­alien­able right of all in our coun­try, in­clud­ing Com­rade Ja­cob Zuma, to be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til and if proven guilty.”

The state­ment is non-com­mit­tal on whether the party sup­ports or not sup­port­ing its for­mer pres­i­dent. In the past years, the is­sue of cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against the for­mer pres­i­dent has proved to be threat­en­ing to the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of the old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment in the coun­try. Whilst oth­ers in the party be­lieved that he should be ex­on­er­ated by the court of law of all the al­le­ga­tions against him, oth­ers felt that it will be the ANC it­self that will suf­fer the most. The lat­ter ar­gued strongly that an at­tack on Zuma was a di­rect at­tack on the party it­self, and there­fore he should be de­fended. This line of ar­gu­ment was ex­ploited to the max­i­mum by op­po­si­tion par­ties and other civil or­gan­i­sa­tions as a re­luc­tance by the rul­ing party to deal with cor­rup­tion es­pe­cially when it em­anates from its own ranks or com­mit­ted by one of its own es­pe­cially those oc­cu­py­ing higher po­si­tions.

The South African po­lit­i­cal scene in the past nine years was char­ac­terised by al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against the for­mer pres­i­dent. In fact, the word cor­rup­tion be­came syn­ony­mous with Zuma and marches were or­gan­ised across the coun­try for his re­moval from of­fice. It was a time of dilemma for the ANC with an­a­lysts and oth­ers from its own ranks blam­ing Zuma for the dis­mal per­for­mance in the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions and also pre­dict­ing that the party may lose the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

How­ever, the sit­u­a­tion, as an­a­lysts say, has changed. The ush­er­ing of a new lead­er­ship within the ANC was ac­com­pa­nied by not only the strong words against cor­rup­tion but the prom­ise of ac­tion against any wrong­do­ing within both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors. There­fore, the an­nounce­ment by Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) head, Shaun Abra­hams, that Zuma will fi­nally face the charges came as a re­lief to some and in­stilled a sense of fear in oth­ers. The sense of fear is po­lit­i­cal and, we be­lieve, is not based on the need for jus­tice to take its course. The worry em­anates from un­cer­tainty on what the pros­e­cu­tion of the for­mer pres­i­dent means for the ANC.

The ANC it­self should not or must not be seen to be send­ing mixed mes­sages when it comes to deal­ing with cor­rup­tion as it has promised, es­pe­cially by its new pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa. The party should de­sist from is­su­ing state­ments that may be seen as a means to de­fend those that are per­ceived to be wrong.

With­out cast­ing any neg­a­tive as­per­sions on the for­mer pres­i­dent, we be­lieve it will only be the jus­tice sys­tem that will ex­on­er­ate him or prove to be true the al­le­ga­tions that have been hang­ing like a cloud over his head through­out his term as a pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic.

When deal­ing with the rot, let’s fol­low due process. As many South Africans woke up to the news that South African Rev­enue Ser­vices com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane has been sacked, many re­joiced but oth­ers were alarmed.

The move by Ramaphosa to clean the rot that ex­ists in govern­ment is wel­comed but he must fol­low due pro­cesses. We just came back from a long cul­ture of court lit­i­ga­tions due to un­fair dis­missals. For­mer Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s le­gal bill sits at a whop­ping R15 mil­lion. We don’t want his­tory to re­peat it­self. Ramaphosa can’t be start­ing his term with lit­i­ga­tions.

Moy­ane has al­ready in­di­cated that he will be chal­leng­ing his sus­pen­sion. The de­ci­sion to sus­pend Moy­ane fol­lowed a meet­ing in which Ramaphosa in­formed him that he had lost con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to lead SARS and of­fered him an opportunity to re­sign with im­me­di­ate ef­fect but Moy­ane de­clined.

In his let­ter, Moy­ane ac­cused Ramaphosa of not al­low­ing him to give his side of the story on the Jonas Mak­wakwa mat­ter. Moy­ane said he did not un­der­stand why he should re­sign while Par­lia­ment was han­dling the is­sue. He fur­ther in­di­cated that when he de­clined to re­sign, Ramaphosa made it clear that he would pro­ceed to ef­fect the dis­missal.

This is where it gets in­ter­est­ing and wor­ry­ing at the same time. Moy­ane raises a valid point in this mat­ter: “To my sur­prise, you in­tended to pro­ceed with dis­missal not­with­stand­ing that there is no ev­i­dence of an ir­re­triev­able break­down of trust be­tween the Pres­i­dent and the Com­mis­sioner of the SARS.”

We need to un­der­stand the le­gal grounds that he is be­ing fired on. There has not been a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing which found him guilty of any wrong­do­ing. This is a very dan­ger­ous ter­rain he is trad­ing on. It fur­ther paints a pic­ture of a curl­ing of Zuma al­lies. That is fine but do it within the labour laws.

It might be ar­gued that he has just been sus­pended and not fired but we know how things go in the coun­try, sus­pen­sion ul­ti­mately leads to fir­ing.

All we ask is for the labour laws to be fol­lowed and not tram­pled and we will sup­port the de­ci­sion but not if it’s go­ing to cost us the tax­pay­ers. We are tired of court ac­tions and we urge you, Mr Pres­i­dent, to not take us down this road again.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.