The Zuma recordings: SA is the crayfish, corruption the boiling water
- Pierre de Vos
- 26 Oct 2012 12:50 (South Africa)
Humans can also get used to (and can even begin to accept) things that should, in fact, be intolerable. During the Apartheid years we got used to living in a godforsaken country. Many of us – black and white – went about our business, despite the obscenity of the injustices around us. We might not have liked it, many might have suffered because of it, but most of us got used to it in our own peculiar ways.
Times have changed. We live in a democracy with a relatively free press now. All of us can vote and can travel freely throughout the country – if we have the resources to do so. And those of us who are middle class and have access to resources can feel relatively safe in the knowledge that the police will probably think twice before assaulting, torturing or killing us.
But we are nevertheless in danger of getting used to things that no one in a democracy should ever be required to get used to. Increasingly, President Jacob Zuma is our pot of boiling water and ordinary citizens are the crayfish.
Remember that President Zuma avoided criminal prosecution for fraud and corruption because he allegedly provided the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with recordings of illegally taped phone conversations, which showed that there was some strategising about when to formally charge him. The then-acting head of the NPA, Mokotedi Mpshe, claimed that the NPA had obtained separate recordings of these conversations and used them to justify the dropping of charges. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ordered the NPA to hand these recordings and transcripts over to the applicants, pointing out that the “NDPP will be obliged to make available whatever was before Mr Mpshe when he made the decision to discontinue the prosecution”.
As the SCA pointed out in that judgement (which was only necessary because the NPA abused the legal process to stall the review), the NPA had to hand over all the relevant material, because without this record a court would not be able to perform its Constitutionally entrenched review function. The SCA thus ordered the NPA:
to produce and lodge with the Registrar of this Court the record of the decision. Such record shall exclude the written representations made on behalf of the third respondent and any consequent memorandum or report prepared in response thereto or oral representations if the production thereof would breach any confidentiality attaching to the representations (the reduced record). The reduced record shall consist of the documents and materials relevant to the review, including the documents before the first respondent when making the decision and any documents informing such decision.
Unless the NPA is lying, it inexplicably and illegally handed over the only copy of the recordings and transcripts of recordings obtained from the NIA to Mr Hulley, (President Zuma’s lawyer), instead of handing it over to the applicants. The NPA was not authorised to do this. The refusal by the Acting Head of the NPA to hand over the recordings must surely spell contempt of court.
Mr Zuma himself is not in contempt of court because he was not ordered to hand over the documents and recordings to the applicants. And talk of his possible impeachment is a waste of time. Section 89(1) states that the National Assembly can impeach the president on the grounds of a serious violation of the Constitution or the law, serious misconduct or incapacity. But this can only be done if two thirds of the members of the National Assembly support the removal from office. As the ANC commands more than 65% of the seats in the National Assembly and as President Zuma inexplicably remains the leader of the ANC, Zuma is not going to be impeached. It’s a waste of time and energy to talk about it.
But President Zuma is not above the law, and is not allowed to abuse his power to protect himself from prosecution or from revelations that the original decision to drop the charges was based on lies or half-truths. He cannot put pressure on an independent body like the NPA to ignore a court order. Neither can he keep quiet while others break the law to protect him without adverse inferences being drawn about his conduct and his character.
Let’s face it, President Zuma and his lawyer have serious explaining to do. (Giggling and pretending that you know nothing about anything stops being plausible and believable after a certain point.)
Was any pressure placed on the NPA illegally to hand over the recordings and transcripts to Hulley? Given the fact that these recordings and transcripts were supposedly independently obtained from the NIA, they should never have been given to Mr Hulley, who has absolutely no right to keep them. Why has Mr Zuma not ordered his lawyer to hand back the NIA recordings and transcripts to the NPA? Do these recordings and transcripts even exist, or was the existence of these recordings part of a big lie cooked up by Zuma, his lawyers and the NPA to justify the dropping of charges against him?
Is it plausible that the NPA would hand over these recordings and transcripts made by the NIA (if these recordings and transcripts exist at all) to a private person (Hulley) without making any copies? If so, who instructed this to be done? Who could possibly believe that the NPA would have handed over all recordings and transcripts without making copies unless they were ordered or pressurised by Mr Zuma or those working on his instructions to do so?
Somebody is trying to cover up something. The question is: who is doing the covering up and on whose instructions are they doing this? As is often the case with political scandals (shall we call it Corruptiongate or Zumagate or Mpshegate or NPAgate?), one of the biggest questions would be: what does President Zuma know, and when did he come to know of it?
Not that any of these crooked manoeuvres would do President Zuma and his protectors any good in the long run. As the SCA pointed out, the NPA and Zuma are between a rock and a hard place. The less information they provide to the applicants, the more likely it is that a court would look at this scant information provided and conclude that the decision of the NPA to drop charges against Zuma was itself corrupt and/or irrational.
In the absence of the recordings and transcripts supposedly independently provided to the NPA by the NIA, the court will almost certainly find that the original decision to drop charges against Zuma was unlawful. This would resurrect the charges, and President Zuma would once again stand accused of fraud and corruption.
President Zuma will then have to stand trial. Unless, of course, somebody manages to cook up another story to get the charges against the president dropped. But maybe by then we would have become so used to the manipulation of the criminal justice system that no one would notice. DM
- Nkandla report - the incontrovertible facts no smokescreens can cover
- The colonial roots of conferring silk on advocates
- Structural racism: the invisible evil
- E-toll civil disobedience reveals lack of respect for democracy
- We recognise sex and gender as classifications, so why not race?
- Nkandla Report blackout: It is all about PW Botha's law
- Elections are coming: Can we have some substance, please?
- The JSC: It’s not all bad, and here’s why
- The remembrance and forgetting of things past
- Nkandla: Untangling that rather sticky web
- Employment equity: the trick is in how it’s implemented
- Justice: that elusive prize, and how to get it
- Elections: The tightrope of fairness
- Teen sex: The law can’t replace parenting
- The Hlophe conundrum, revisited
- Khayelitsha policing: among the shambles and turf wars, it’s the residents who suffer
- Media freedom is a right that benefits all
- Attempts to discredit Madonsela could backfire
- The Mdluli matter: Nxasana’s first big test
- Sparing the rod: what it really entails
- Secrecy Bill: a touch more confusion, and a glimmer of hope
- Zuma's Secrecy Bill move: The Darker Side
- Hoffman’s complaint: why it was bound to fail
- Freedom of expression – and the quest for living meaningfully
- When a joke is not a joke
- The bad news: Qwelane’s constitutional challenge might just work
- Restoring the Electoral Commission: What happens next?
- A vote of no confidence is not to be taken lightly, by majority or minority
- The murky marriage of money and politics
- FF+ vs. EFF: doomed to fail
- Spy Tapes: A clear and simple case
- Hell is other people (trolling the Internet)
- Colour me irrational
- Women’s day – just another day for men to call the shots
- Arms Deal Commission: It’s the moment to make or break
- Marikana Commission: More questions than answers
- The court of individual identity
- Pius Langa: A man who knew the meaning of change
- Dear Film and Publications Board, please review your own rules
- Animal antics, and the separation of powers doctrine
- Hypocrisy fit for a king
- Take care with those ‘insults’
- ‘Top secret’ Nkandla report: On the highway to embarrassment
- Traditional leadership: Cat can look at a king
- Equal Education: The Minister doth protest too much
- Willing buyer, willing seller works… If you have a lifetime to wait
- Polygyny: Our human rights half-job
- Trial by media? Actually, that’s impossible
- Pistorius: The horror of a broken (white) body
- Oh what a tangled legal quagmire... when first we practise an NDPP to hire?
- Breytenbach: too little fear, favour and prejudice?
- The curious case of the pastor punished for honesty
- What’s that smell? Must be the name droppings.
- KZN University: A storm in a (Zulu) teacup
- Nkandla: The details will, and should, be made public
- Great speech vs. hate speech: how it really works
- Cape Town evictions: Brutal, inhumane, and totally unlawful
- The new, tamer Secrecy Bill: Still not constitutional
- Zuma and the Guptas: the ‘symbiosis’ continues
- Discrimination is illegal. When will we learn this?
- It’s not a democracy if our children aren’t equal
- An upside-down world: What would happen if we cared about the ‘others’?
- JSC: Let’s inject some common sense, shall we?
- Rose-tinted amnesia: The struggle to ‘rebrand’ SA’s Apartheid past
- Cardinal Napier: the plot thickens
- Redefining ‘merit’: first task for a transformed JSC
- The dating race
- Putting the ‘dread’ into ‘dreadlocks’
- Liars, damn liars, and the SA government
- Constitution clear on troops in the CAR: Zuma must talk to Parliament
- SA in CAR: the questions that remain
- Why are South African soldiers dying in CAR?
- Covering up sexual abuse is a crime, Cardinal
- Nkandla: Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
- The education MEC, children's heads, and a knobkerrie
- In black and white: the truth about ‘unconstitutional’ race quotas in universities
- Losing battles: Why the FMF doesn’t stand a chance
- Democracy vs. traditional leadership: the delicate ballet
- Police brutality comes as a surprise? Really?
- Sometimes a Tweeter is just a Twit
- Lady Justice’s scales appear to be faulty
- Pistorius trial: The legal principles that will decide the case
- Oscar Pistorius case: Bail isn’t denied as easily as you think
- Public opinion: Is there really any danger of prejudice against Oscar?
- All we know is that a woman is dead
- The secret history: Unearthing the mysterious Presidential Manual
- Sexwale abuse allegations: Very much our business
- SA’s rape epidemic: The limitations of outrage
- Will the real freedom of expression please stand up?
- But what of the people of Khayelitsha?
- WWE Smackdown: Zille vs. TNA edition
- Nkandla: Everything that's wrong with the Zuma government
- Nkandla: The spinning, mincing, dicing - and the report we're not allowed to read
- Beyond all (t)reason
- Judicial transformation: South Africa's appalling non-commitment
- The criminal stupidity of criminalising teen sex
- Careful, Mr Mthembu: The re-emergence of Apartheid's 'volksvreemdes' mentality
- Unequal education: the problem with providing learning for all
- SA troops in CAR: Why we should all be worried
- Mulholland column: Ignorance squared is still ignorance
- Elective processes: Something is rotten in the kingdom of the ANC
- Outa application: Courts can't fix political processes
- Chaskalson, SACP and the Constitution: Don’t touch me on my liberalism
- Carlisle and car key confiscation: Don't go with the (traffic) flow
- Dear Contralesa, please approach your nearest healer for a diagnosis
- Simelane: You can't end what never truly began
- Playing by the rules: The balancing act of Judge Dennis Davis
- Sunlight is the best disinfectant
- Lenasia: The haunting abandonment of humanity
- Lies, damn lies, and Zuma's 'bond'
- Show us the money, Mr Zuma
- The opposition doth protest too much: Why the ANC is hellbent on crushing debate
- Note to Zuma: Try commanding respect, not demanding it
- Dear Nxesi, your fantasy is damaging South Africa’s reality
- Running the Gauntlett: Why the struggle for appointment?
- Affirmative action: a decidedly middle-class problem
- Hate crime: there is no such thing as an excuse - ever
- Mfeketo and Zuma: You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?
- Ramaphosa: Where does corruption begin and end?
- The Zuma recordings: SA is the crayfish, corruption the boiling water
- No safety in numbers: Why a bigger opposition isn't a stronger opposition
- Specs, lies and audiotape - the hidden Zuma recordings
- The ANC on school closures: can they win?
- Thuli Madonsela: The difference between 'unpopularity' and 'misconduct'
- Democracy: it starts in Parliament
- The National Key Points Act: not just unconstitutional, but totally invalid
- Simelane and 'rational' thought
- Halt the witch-hunt, Minister
- Home is where the taxpayer's money is
- Will Malema's case stand up in court?
- South Africa's Striking Miners: A Menace to Society? Or just to the middle class?
- E-tolling judgement: Sorry for Gauteng, but it's perfectly lawful
- Silence is golden - if the speakers are criticising the State
- Malema at the SANDF: Inappropriate? Yes. Illegal? No.
- Freedom of religion: not so free after all
- Whites against Woolworths: doth they protest too much?
- From the NPA with fear, favour - and prejudice
- Marikana murder charge withdrawal: the first glimmer of sanity
- Abuse, Inc: The 'miners made us do it' murder charge
- A marriage made in hell
- Lonmin's Farlam Commission: not bad, not bad at all
- Marikana: Avoidable, unconstitutional… and entirely predictable