The Star Late Edition

Political strategy

- GEOFF HUGHES Geoff Hughes is an emeritus professor formerly with Wits University

“TO apologise is to lay the foundation­s for a future offence.” Ambrose Bierce’s cynical observatio­n a century ago retains a grain of truth.

The current political impasse between the ANC and Ace Magashule is instructiv­e. From the start commentato­rs objected that former president Jacob Zuma’s so-called apology after the damning judgment by the Constituti­onal Court was only for the “confusion and misunderst­anding”, partly caused by the president himself in launching parallel processes.

It was not a heartfelt mea culpa which the national scandal of Nkandla required, nor was it an apology for his own serious constituti­onal failures.

The president’s words formed more of a political strategy.

Consequent­ly, not a day has passed without some ANC heavyweigh­t announcing “the president has apologised”, or more arrogantly, “the ANC has accepted the apology”, as if that was the end of the matter.

Mr (Gwede) Mantashe, Mr (Jackson) Mthembu, Ms (Lindiwe) Sisulu and others have joined the chorus, stressing the point that previous presidents did not issue apologies for their responsibi­lities.

However, prominent among dissenting bodies, the South African Council of Churches did not accept the apology, and asked for Zuma to stand down.

Today we wait.

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