Tokoloshe won’t work on Zuma

The Times (South Africa) - - BIG READS - RANJENI MUNUSAMY

IF THIS were a Fred­er­ick Forsyth thriller, you could imag­ine a plot twist that would in­volve a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar pay­off to a head of state to bug­ger off.

The deal would be pre­sented by a guy in a leather jacket and a face tat­too, who would go nose to nose with Pres­i­dent Crooked Dic­ta­tor to make it clear he did not have much of a choice.

In that sce­nario the pres­i­dent, prob­a­bly in mil­i­tary uni­form, would break out into a cold sweat and flee with the brief­case into a wait­ing chop­per, which would then be shot down by an­other vil­lain in Ray-Bans and a black turtle­neck.

This is South Africa, a con­sti­tu­tional state where the rule of law might be un­der at­tack but still ex­ists. An “amnesty pack­age” for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma would be il­le­gal and il­log­i­cal — no mat­ter how many ze­roes you add to it.

Who would “face tat­too guy” be in this sce­nario? Who in this coun­try would be in the po­si­tion to ne­go­ti­ate an amnesty pack­age that would be ap­pli­ca­ble to all fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tions?

If it is an emis­sary of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, what guar­an­tee is there that his guy is go­ing to win the pres­i­dency or will have con­trol over what all fu­ture na­tional direc­tors of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions would do?

Are the crim­i­nal charges that are to be ex­punged the 783 counts of fraud or cor­rup­tion re­lat­ing to the Shaik trial or all fu­ture charges re­lat­ing to the mas­sive swirly that is now the Gupta em­pire?

If they re­late to cor­rup­tion around state cap­ture, how would the deal be set­tled if no­body knows what the charges are yet?

There­fore, what would the agree­ment en­tail? An ad­mis­sion of guilt from Zuma, es­pe­cially when crim­i­nal­ity is not yet le­gally de­ter­mined? Have you met Ja­cob Zuma? He lives by the pre­cept of plau­si­ble de­ni­a­bil­ity. He would not ad­mit to wear­ing spec­ta­cles even with the ex­is­tence of count­less images of him push­ing them up with his mid­dle fin­ger!

And un­der which laws would such an amnesty deal work?

Amnesty was used as a tool of tran­si­tional jus­tice in terms of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion but un­der very spe­cific con­di­tions and time pe­ri­ods. There are var­i­ous other forms of amnesty — credit amnesty, tax amnesty, firearm amnesty — but no po­lit­i­cal amnesty.

Statu­tory amend­ments would, there­fore, need to be passed in par­lia­ment to ex­on­er­ate some­one from charges past, present and fu­ture based on a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment.

Can you imag­ine any of the op­po­si­tion par­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in such a process? Can you imag­ine the en­tire EFF cau­cus maul­ing any­one propos­ing such a ridicu­lous thing?

Pre­sum­ing “face tat­too guy” ac­tu­ally ex­ists and made such a propo­si­tion to Zuma, which South African busi­ness­men would be silly enough to give him R2-bil­lion to give to Zuma?

What guar­an­tee would they have that Zuma will not just take the money and stay put?

Many peo­ple are des­per­ate to get rid of Zuma and, as a re­sult, there is a lot of wish­ful think­ing and con­jec­ture. But just be­cause some­one says they can make a tokoloshe kid­nap him, let’s not be­lieve it is pos­si­ble.

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