National campaign set up to stop Zuma from ‘assailing the Constitution’ and to fight ‘unrestrained, large-scale looting’

By Ferial Haffajee 18 March 2021

ANC veterans, the country’s two leading Covid-19 scientists, the SACP, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, business leaders, churches and leading organisations of civil society have come together to form a Defend Our Democracy front to resist attacks on the Constitution and the judiciary, notably by former president Jacob Zuma.

Ferial Haffajee

Various organisations and individuals have signed a declaration of support for the newly launched Defend Our Democracy programme of action, which is similar to the Save SA campaign organised at the height of State Capture.

At two launches this week, ANC veterans such as Murphy Morobe, Mavuso Msimang and Cheryl Carolus pledged support, while Morobe called for a new political system. The campaign is non-partisan.

Mmusi Maimane with the One South Africa Movement is part of it, as is Mojanku Gumbi, the former adviser to former president Thabo Mbeki and a veteran of the Black Consciousness Movement.

Professors Salim Abdool-Karim and Glenda Gray were present – one on each day – to support the initiative. SACP secretary-general Solly Mapaila, one of the first people to coin the term ‘State Capture’, bemoaned what he called a “descent into chaos”.

The South African Council of Churches (Sacc) has spoken out against attempts to destabilise South Africa and sees the Defend Our Democracy campaign as a continuation of that work.

A statement read out by former ambassador Sheila Sisulu does not pull its punches.

“Recently, a former president of our country, once described in a Constitutional Court judgment as embodying the ‘constitutional being’ of the republic, defied an order of the same court. This astonishing defiance by a former head of state not only violates the law but assails the Constitution itself.”

It says South Africans are still subject to “unrestrained large-scale looting, which has destabilised the state and brought the economy to the brink of collapse”. And it says those named in State Capture inquiries or charged with corruption have formed a cartel to defend themselves.

This has become a movement with Zuma at its vanguard.

“Disparate parties directly implicated in the State Capture project have been enlisted to amplify the former president’s unlawful defiance of the Constitutional Court. The deployment of personnel in army camouflage playing the role of a private militia, the very existence of which offends the letter and spirit of our democracy, is an ominous dimension of this anti-constitutional conduct,” says the statement.

The campaign is likely to become the counterpoint to protests outside important hearings of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture or at major anti-corruption trials. DM

Defend Our Democracy – Fina…

  • This article was amended at 1pm on Friday, 19 March to reflect accurately that Gumbi’s  political background is with the Black Consciousness Movement. 

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All Comments 24

  • By far the best news of the year. The fight back has started, and surely the movement will gain strength in months to come. Now this group must start to mobilise the masses. Massive protest (even if small groups of 250 each, but thousands of them) action, all over the country, with media support.

  • Well done to those who began this. A visual, peace-full but powerful presence for the ordinary citizen tired of being bullied by some of those in power or seeking power for themselves. I’m in.

  • Am I reading the signs right? Did the ANC vote to support a DA motion (on investing the PP) for the first time? And are the honest and hard-working moderates of all parties finding structures for showing their unity with our common humanity? Is this our coming of age? I’m feeling quietly excited.

  • Should a new party not be formed which would pull the elusive Centre together called The Constitutional Party – or just rename the ANC that. It. is a clear clarion call to unity based on the fundamental building block of our democracy.

  • A brilliant initiative, but it now needs to gather momentum. So where do I sign up? How can I make a contribution? Where and when do we march?

  • The comments posted here give a very encouraging indication that this movement is already gaining momentum. It needs unfettered support to become a sorely-needed political force to challenge the feckless gangsters and cowards in the ANC.

  • Most groups here are fine with me. But, never the SACP. Over history they have operated an alternate agenda – to suit themselves. Democracy and the SACP-instigated NDR do NOT go hand in hand!
    MARVELOUS that disparate groups unite here, but, for me – not with Cronin’s Cronies, or Blades’ Cut-throats!

  • This is a great start. I hope it rolls like a wave across the whole country. Sell those T shirts in every shopping mall, every supermarket and regional shop.

  • We South Africans, regardless of race, now have to take hands and stand firmly together against the looters that have stolen trillions of our tax payers money.

  • can the decent ANC supporters just please start with taking back the branches? The ANC branch system was captured because it determines who gets put forward to the structures that tell the government what it must do, and who will be cadres.

    1m branch members run this country, not 20m voters!!!

  • It’s been a long time coming but at last something is happening. Don’t let’s be distracted by party affiliations. People, not politicians matter. Where do I join?


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