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ConCourt reaffirms foundations of our democracy, now Ramaphosa must act against other delinquents

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Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar was born in Cape Town and raised by his determined mother, grandparents, aunt and the rest of his maternal family. He is an admitted attorney (formerly of the corporate hue), with recent exposure in the public sector, and is currently working on transport and infrastructure projects. He is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, and a WEF Global Shaper. He had a brief stint in the contemporary party politic environment working for Mamphela Ramphele as Agang CEO and chief-of-staff; he found the experience a deeply educational one.

The Constitutional Court’s decisive decision in finding Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him to 15 months in prison reaffirms the important role our apex court has played in shaping our democracy and, at times of crisis, strengthening our democratic muscle to respond against those who have failed to serve the Republic effectively and appropriately.

The trouble with public representatives within South Africa’s body politic is that they seem uninterested in being held to account. Leaders within the African National Congress continue to insult South Africans while being focused only on defending the indefensible against any sense of morality or decency. Former president Thabo Mbeki, during his weekend delivery of the Walter Sisulu Memorial Lecture, reflected on the governing party, remarking as follows:

It cannot and must not be that if we, the ANC leadership, are trapped in an organisational death wish, South Africa at large acts in a manner which allows that the macabre within the ANC visits immense disaster on our already suffering population and millions of others elsewhere in our region and continent.

The death spiral that those within the ANC have embarked on continues to undermine South Africa’s democracy and erode our faith in our democratic institutions and those entrusted as custodians of that democracy and our hard-won freedoms and rights. The threat that Mbeki reflected on continues to cripple South Africa’s ability to respond to the needs of ordinary South Africans while those in positions of power and privilege continue to be shielded from the consequences of their actions and misdeeds.

South Africa’s democracy must continue to be defended against those who seek to put their own interest above those that they have been elected to serve.  

There is no doubt that Zizi Kodwa, former ANC spokesperson, moonlighter perhaps for former EOH executive Jehan Mackay, and now deputy minister of state security should have known better — and should have exercised better judgment. Yet, Kodwa made the conscious choice while wielding party political influence to enter into a long-standing and financially beneficial relationship with Mackay. Kodwa’s behaviour is abhorrent especially in a country that continues to suffer the consequences of the “immense disaster” that has been visited on the Republic by the governing party.

Kodwa suggests to the State Capture Commission that the R1-million loan from Mackay was only to be paid upon his successful ascension to a stable position in spite of currently earning R1,977,795.00 per annum. The suggestions from Kodwa made this week at the State Capture Commission can only be described as “macabre”, delinquent and not befitting the office that Kodwa has been entrusted to hold.  

President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa cannot wait for the outcomes of the State Capture Commission and the further reporting around this financially beneficial relationship that Kodwa held with Mackay but should act in the interest of the Republic. South Africa requires Ramaphosa to act decisively against those who support him, and not only those under the banner of leadership under Ace Magashule.

Now is not the time for Ramaphosa to drag his feet, but rather to act decisively to demand more from his colleagues in Cabinet. Ramaphosa must consider the weight of his office and the trust that South Africans have placed in his hands, and the only outcome is that he must clear out his Cabinet of those who have not simply committed acts of malfeasance and corruption, but also those who are not fit for office.

Ramaphosa will not only need to confront the continuing revelations that implicate senior members of his Cabinet, but also will need to act swiftly once he receives the finalised report from the Special Investigating Unit relating to suspended Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on 29 June 2021.

In the absence of meaningful and decisive leadership, South Africa’s judiciary has again been called on to confront the spectre that is former president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. The Constitutional Court in considering Zuma’s contempt of court matter must again provide guidance around the antics of a well-known constitutional delinquent and macabre figure within both the ANC and South Africa.

The elevation of leaders such as Zuma was not accidental but rather an intentional process of demonising people like Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo and Mbeki at the time while playing up the victim credentials of Zuma. Political expediency ensured that Zuma was able to assume the role as the Republic’s president, presiding over the collapse of democratic institutions, diversion of billions, and further entrenching — in fact, exacerbating — the suffering of millions of South Africans.

The Constitutional Court’s decisive decision on Tuesday 29 June again reaffirms the important role our apex court has played in shaping our democracy and at times of crisis, strengthening our democratic muscle to respond against those who have failed to serve the Republic effectively and appropriately.

Acting Chief Justice Sisi Virginia Khampepe, who has steadfastly and honourably served South Africa for more than 30 years, handed down judgment from our apex court decisively on Tuesday and reaffirmed the foundations of our democracy, and a reminder to the people of this country that failure to account will have dire consequences.

Zuma defied the processes outlined by the State Capture Commission, even though he signed its proclamation in the last moments of his own presidency, and as a result of that, the court has sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment.

After all, Zuma himself has “repeatedly reiterated that he would rather be in prison than to comply with the commission”. Khampepe and our Constitutional Court not only honour the values and spirit of our Constitution and the sacrifice for our hard-won freedoms but importantly reaffirm the essential principle that all are equal before the Constitution and our law.

The misconduct and malfeasance of the ANC extend far beyond Zuma, and critically the introspection and work of defending our democracy must continue far beyond the outcomes of the Constitutional Court’s decision.

The ANC has been unable to properly account for its role in the lost decade presided over by Zuma but enabled by the governing party. This failure to account rests with Ramaphosa and the elected officials, and the spiral that the governing party seems obsessed with can no longer be tolerated. The consequences cannot be sustained and carried by the millions of South Africans who continue to struggle under the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

South Africans should not need to wait any longer for meaningful action to be taken against all those who continue to be implicated in any form of malfeasance and self-interest. Ramaphosa not only has a moral duty but a constitutional mandate and responsibility to act decisively and without any hesitation.

The defence of our democracy cannot only be fought for by those outside elected office, but rather the work of the active citizenry must be championed within the halls of political power. Ramaphosa and those across the country entrusted by the people of this country must be on notice that South Africans shall not stand for those “macabre” and delinquent elected representatives and politicians. DM

 

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  • This was a great article and I congratulate the writer on a principled narrative of the problems posed by the governance of the ANC and the actions of its representatives.It would be good if this piece would have a wider readership than the already converted base of the Daily Maverick!

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