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Deny, evade, lie – Zuma, Mkhwebane fixers imitate Trump’s original hatchetman, Roy Cohn

Deny, evade, lie – Zuma, Mkhwebane fixers imitate Trump’s original hatchetman, Roy Cohn
Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 10 October 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The R500k diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg popped to secure former president Jacob Zuma’s private prosecution of advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan is straight out of Roy Cohn’s playbook.

We all know Jacob Zuma is and always has been a kept man. He needs his sugar daddies. The Shaiks, the Guptas. It is why His Former Excellency has ended up with the seriously dodgy Louis Liebenberg reaching for his fat wallet.

Meanwhile, Rapport at the weekend published a string of revolting racist voice notes by Liebenberg that the newspaper confirmed with “a source with direct knowledge of events” to be genuine.

Liebenberg told the newspaper the voice notes had been “fabricated” by an “ex-girlfriend” and threatened “a war” if the paper revealed the contents of the voice notes. It went ahead anyway.

Bad, bad money.

Like that stuffed into black bags by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson and Angelo Agrizzi, his singing Italian COO sidekick now facing his own travails in court. And another, Carl Niehaus, chanting Zuma’s praises with an Afrikaans accent so thick and triggering it takes one back to Pretoria circa 1978.

Niehaus “interviewed” Liebenberg, whom he described as an “Afrikaner businessman”, on Twitter on 12 October.

Liebenberg, who had assets worth R100-million momentarily frozen by the National Prosecuting Authority in March 2021 before the high court released them, gifted Zuma with some cattle before his generous gesture on Monday, 10 October. That makes him not WMC.

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That was the day advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan found themselves in the dock of the Pietermaritzburg High Court. A sprightly and healthy-looking Zuma, dressed in a three-piece blue suit and black shoes as pointy as crocodile heads, sat twiddling his thumbs in the courtroom.

Zuma, whose 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court — most of which has been spent outside in the rural tranquillity of Nkandla on an illegal medical parole — ended on 7 October, will soon be back in the dock.

The former head of state is expected to appear in the same court on Monday, 17 October, to finally (maybe) face charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud related to the Arms Deal.

Prosecuting him will be Billy Downer.

It is Downer that Liebenberg is helping Zuma to target by coughing up the deposit required for an unprecedented private prosecution by a former head of state.

Zuma is attempting to fell the dogged Downer, the man who has tracked  the corruption case for more than 20 years. For good measure, Zuma has thrown in Maughan. The duo are accused of “leaking” doctors’ letters with regard to Zuma’s “terminal” medical “condition”.

Fouling democracy

It is reviled US fixer, lawyer Roy Cohn — an early and enduring malevolent influence on the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, as well as American politics in general — who can take much credit for fouling democracy in that country. 

Men such as Cohn and Roger Stone (a Nixon and Trump adviser) subscribe to one creed alone: never admit defeat. Do what it takes, take whatever money you can no matter how dirty, intimidate and even target opponents’ safety, but always deny, evade, lie, subvert and bully the law.

zuma mkhwebane cohn

Attorney Roy Cohn talking to American senator Joseph McCarthy (right), circa 1954. (Photo: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Cohn (who died in denial of his HIV status in 1986) and Stone (who still lives, albeit now as a dead ringer for Andy Warhol) have shaped the dark underbelly of modern US politics.

In his youth, Stone worked for another liar and lawless cheat, Richard Nixon. He was the youngest person indicted by the Watergate commission — he was still in high school at the time.

Stone is central to the January 6 hearings into the Capitol Riot in 2020. Weeks before the assault on the Capitol, Stone and far-right media personality Ali Alexander had identified the January 6 congressional certification as the last opportunity for Trump to overturn the results of the presidential election.

A coup by chaos.

Political shadowplay

Zuma, suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, advocate Dali Mpofu and the coterie of followers and advisers, such as Paul Ngobeni, as well as others who drive the shapeshifting RET cult and narrative, are versions of this malevolent, political shadowplay.

Mkhwebane has not spared us any rhetoric in her quest to complete her mission — which, from testimony to the 194 Inquiry, appears to be protecting corrupt and venal politicians and officials.

On Tuesday, 11 October, Cape Town High Court judges Lister Nuku, Matthew Francis and James Lekhuleni confirmed that it is the job of the Constitutional Court to decide on a ruling by the same court that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suspension of Mkhwebane had been tainted by bias.

Until then, Mkhwebane remains suspended, locked out of the Pretoria headquarters where the Phala Phala file is under lock and key and ready to return to face her Section 194 impeachment inquiry, which has also been placed on hold.

No sooner had the judges handed down their ruling than Mkhwebane urgently applied to appeal.

There have been several attempts to stall the historic inquiry, including an application by Mpofu, Mkwebane’s legal representative, for inquiry chair Qubudile Dyantyi to be recused.

Meanwhile, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa has entered the fray, tweeting on Wednesday, 12 October, that he had written to Dyantyi to ask for an investigation into evidence leader Advocate Nazreen Bawa.

Holomisa has been a vocal supporter of Mkhwebane and backed her call for Ramaphosa to testify at her 194 impeachment inquiry.

The ruling on Tuesday did not address Mkhwebane’s desperate attempts to return to her office to attend to an investigation into the break-in and theft of foreign currency and the alleged subsequent cover-up at Ramaphosa’s game farm Phala Phala.

All of this is unfurling against the backdrop of the ANC’s elective conference in December where Zuma and his proxies are hoping, like Trump, to limp back into power — through the back or any other door.

As for Cohn, British historian Eric Hobsbawm opined that he “made his legal and political career in a milieu where money and power override rules and the law — indeed where the ability to get, and get away with, what lesser citizens cannot, is what proves membership of an elite.”

This is an elite that has been ruinous for the citizens of many countries across the world including the US, Angola, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Hungary, the UK… and many more.

So far the courts have held. And they will continue to do so. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Nice summary, Marianne. Thanks. God know what Bantu’s up to! Maybe he’s feeling a bit ignored.

  • Errol Price says:

    It absolutely beggars belief that the Courts in South Africa as well as most , if not all legal commentators are unable to perceive that the private prosecution of Downer and Maughan represents an utter perversion of a functioning legal system. Like the notorious ” Stalingrad strategy” which is not a form clever” delaying tactic ” as naive observers believe, these are methods calculated to upend the entire system and create legal chaos. The supine courts in South Africa have aided and abetted in this nefarious enterprise.
    In the USA ,following the lies spewed by Trump lawyers, before the Courts, a group of bi-partisan judges, lawyers and academics formed the ‘ 65 Project ” to combat this kind of activity and to push for sanctions against lawyers by professional bodies and the courts.
    To any objective observer, the South african legal system is little better now than the wild west eith no sheriff anywhere to be seen.

  • Craig King says:

    If you can afford it why should you be denied the best defence available. The fact that it irritates those who wish to see you fail shouldn’t be a reason not to have effective lawyers.

    Everybody feels frustrated by Zuma et al making headway but wouldn’t they embrace such defences if they had the cash? After all losing with honour is still losing.

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    Louis Liebenberg’s social media promoted “business venture” Forever Diamonds and Gold is approaching 80 000 members and shows all the signs of a ponzi scheme. Please please please can someone at DM investigate it?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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