Defend Truth


Procrastination or sheer incompetence: How do we break this impasse?


Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Fort Hare University and writes in his personal capacity.

Perhaps if we entertain some possible contributing factors to this impasse we might be able to then agree on a mechanism out of the current “delayed justice” quagmire.

This is not Josephine Tey’s novel The Daughter of Time, in which the good inspector Alan Grant from Scotland Yard set the record straight. It’s not a case of labelling the cripple a villain. Unlike those at the time of Richard III, we in Mzansi are not getting this one wrong.

Oh no, Duduzane, Zwane, Gigaba, the Guptas et al have all allegedly broken the law and the #GuptaLeaks demonstrates this almost daily now, yet nothing is being done about it.

Our law enforcement agencies, SAPS, Hawks and the NPA somehow cannot see what is so plainly obvious to everyone else. Our constitutional democracy is being violated by these acts of corruption, subversion and treason.

Now, no one denies that lots of these leaks are perhaps circumstantial at best; however, with my limited knowledge of the law, a lot seems also to be direct evidence. Circumstantial because it is evidence that relies on inference, to connect it to a conclusion of fact, whereas direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly.

I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that both types of evidence exist in these cases/leaks. So, where is our Inspector Alan Grant, I wonder? Someone must answer for these illegal acts.

How does one break this seemingly intractable impasse?

Perhaps if we entertain some possible contributing factors to this impasse we might be able to then agree on a mechanism out of the current “delayed justice” quagmire.

Shall we assume for the moment that we are experiencing what is commonly referred to as fake news. I’m sure you all know about this phenomenon, with the advent of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp we are for the most part no longer only dependent on traditional news outlets for our news but can almost instantly get it from an array of social media platforms. As long as someone is at the scene with a smartphone, we can all enjoy the benefit of first-hand news.

It does render some of the traditional platforms redundant. But of course this does also go hand in hand with the huge potential for fake news making the rounds because all you have to do is pretend to be at a particular scene when in fact you are nowhere near it but still broadcast as if indeed you are there. No one will be the wiser for at least some time. The point is you would have already influenced or set the tone for any particular response and that is very dangerous at times. The so-called accused in these leaks would want us to believe that someone is dead set on spreading such fake news for their own nefarious reasons.

Or perhaps better yet, we are experiencing a post-truth moment in this post-truth era, described by the Oxford dictionary as circumstances in which objective facts are less influenced in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs. In other words, what use to be called lies. Whichever way we look at it or call it, the end result is rather serious.

Another pertinent question to ask is: is this the situation we face because of the governing party’s deployment strategy? In other words, this inaction we are seemingly accustomed to is a direct result of comrades being deployed to these positions of responsibility, to offices which by law have independent functions and yet these comrades remain loyal to the party, even at the expense of our Constitution?

What indeed must one make of this ostrich scenario?

I am of the opinion that the need for a professional civil service is far greater now than it ever was. We cannot have a situation where individuals owe their allegiance to a political party at the expense of the people of South Africa.

Let me break it down for those that are still not following why I’m apoplectic about this unacceptable behaviour on the part of our law enforcement agencies.

Not the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Bongani Mkongi, nor the head of National Prosecuting Authority, Shaun Abrahams or indeed the other nine provincial prosecutors, not the Minister of State Security or his deputy, not even the Public Protector (Thuli would have been all over this thing by now), not one single courageous person has acted against these alleged criminals. All of you are making a mockery of our constitutional democracy.

Am I finding myself in a parallel universe perhaps?

Ah, perhaps it’s because the person in the west wing of the Union Building is your boss. One can perhaps understand if you don’t want to be responsible for a constitutional crisis by arresting the first citizen of our land, I give you that, but not acting at all against these others? Glory be!

It is now clear what people meant when they said that the justice and security cluster of government is completely captured by the President. We have been desensitised to a point where some of us think this situation is acceptable, it is normal. The ANC as a governing party is doing nothing to question the roles and culpability of their cadres in this mess.

Just so we’re clear, a commission of inquiry into state capture will not provide us with the answers we seek with regards to these blatant criminal activities happening right under our noses. We collectively, as the people, must also take responsibility for our own inaction.

I’ve written before about Shaun Abrahams and the fact that he has been and continues to be presented with an opportunity to recast himself in the eyes of the public at large.

Take my advice, Shaun, withdraw the appeal of the NPA as it pertains to the 783 charges against Jacob Zuma, as a start. Then, recharge the President as per the court ruling – this is not personal, you as a law-abiding citizen and indeed the National Prosecutions Authority must abide to the court ruling, simple. You have no choice in the matter. If the President fires you, so be it, at least you would have redeemed yourself and the integrity of that esteemed office you lead. Because I don’t have to tell you that the Jiba and Mrwebi saga, and them being struck off the advocates’ role for effectively acting unethically, left the reputation of your office in tatters.

You can restore this and take it to its former glory, good sir, but that’s just my advice and since you rejected it last time I’m sure this too will fall on deaf ears.

As for the Police Services, Mbalula, since the Marikana tragedy, SAPS has imploded. The Mdluli saga still haunts your department; fortunately you dealt with the Hawks, Ntlemeza. But still the service is wrought with incompetent and corrupt officers (you only have to look at the Jeremy Veary and Peter Jacobs situation) to understand the depth of the rot. These two good, decent and ethical top cops are at the receiving end of your department because they dared to do the right thing and wanted to expose corrupt cops throughout the country and yet you do nothing to defend and shield them.

As for the Public Protector’s office, the less said the better. The new PP had to fill some very large shoes and has fallen so short in attempting to do so. But I guess that’s what happens when you cannot think for yourself, when you do not appreciate the great responsibility you have been given. And so in a misguided manner you take aim at the SARB and other institutions and then find yourself having to back-pedal in sheer embarrassment, bringing that great office into disrepute.

We look to you all to uphold the law, to be the first line of defence, and yet at the moment you are failing the nation.

Inspector Alan Grant from Scotland Yard may perhaps have set history right with his studious investigations and consistent inquiry into the affairs of King Richard III, but here back home, we yearn for such investigations and inquiry.

Whether lies, post-truth, alternative facts or fake news and the rest, when we no longer know what to believe, it is tantamount to an erosion of trust and when that happens is that a free society cannot function properly any longer.

Do your jobs and take seriously the oath you took, to uphold the Constitution of this, our great nation.

Procrastination or sheer incompetence, I suspect a toxic cocktail of both. DM


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