Defend Truth


Political leaders must be held to a higher standard than their apartheid predecessors


Mavuso Msimang is a former senior member of the African National Congress who served on the Military High Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He returned to South Africa in 1993 and served as Executive Director of SA Tourism, CEO of SANParks and CEO of the State Information Technology Agency. He currently chairs Corruption Watch and serves on various boards, including WWF South Africa. He was one of the original founders of African Parks.

South Africa’s liberation leaders fought against apartheid because they understood that it was not only a crime against humanity but was also an immoral system. They sought to fashion a higher civilisation, to create a world different from apartheid. 

The South African Police Service (SAPS) seems to be experiencing increasing difficulties in discharging its core mandate of upholding and enforcing the laws of the country and maintaining public order. As a  consequence, not just criminals, hard-core and petty alike, are capitalising on this lapse; opportunistic political actors have moved in and taken advantage of the void. In the process, the safety and security of society at large is put at risk and the country drifts inexorably towards lawlessness and potential anarchy.     

Last Friday, on 25 June 2021, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) staged a march estimated at more than 1,000 participants who descended on Tshwane, destined for the head office of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra). Their mission was to demand that the regulator issue licences to enable the supply and distribution in the country of two Covid-19 vaccines, Sputnik V and Sinopharm, that are produced in Russia and China, respectively. This raises a few questions surrounding the EFF protest march. 

Firstly, it boggles the mind as to how SAPS could have allowed a public gathering whose numbers flagrantly violated Covid regulations that at the time, limited the number of people in a public space together to no more than 100 people. Did the SAPS, in fact, grant such permission? If not, why did the police not act to enforce the law?   

The next question relates to the behaviour of the marchers themselves: why did they violate the regulations? While many of the participants thankfully wore masks as required, physical distancing was observed in the breach. Evidently, as subsequently confirmed by EFF leader Julius Malema himself, the EFF has come to the determination that the party is at liberty to violate the country’s laws that happen not to suit the party’s purpose. Addressing his enthusiastic followers, Malema threw down the gauntlet to the authorities. “We are no longer going to entertain any lockdown,” he said, amidst raucous approval from the animated crowd. Continuing: “we are not going to comply with that [lockdown] nonsense.” So, there you have it!

As Malema was flexing his political muscle in this fashion, virologists were warning that Delta, the variant currently sweeping across the country, is the most transmissible variant to hit our shores so far. Third wave infections, as the media continuously announces, and based on our own experiences, are rapacious and respect neither age nor social standing. Currently, Gauteng, the staging location of the EFF march, holds the frightening distinction of being the epicentre of the pandemic. At the prevailing infection rates, the EFF’s one thousand-plus marchers will have contributed their fair share of Covid infections, especially as the demonstrators had to go back to their homes around Gauteng. More of this gratuitous Covid spread can be expected if the EFF faithful comply with Malema’s injunction that they disregard lockdown regulations, including those promulgated last Sunday with the announcement of the Level 4 lockdown. Should the police also continue with the lackadaisical law enforcement they displayed during the 25 June EFF march, woe unto the embattled Gauteng inhabitants. Their fate will be entirely in the hands of the enfant terrible and his cohorts.    

What is also completely insufferable is that the treatment of a pandemic should be the subject of politicisation, such as was on display last week. The approval of pharmaceutical products for use in the country must remain the sole responsibility of designated, competent health specialists and administrators. Period. It turns out that as they were punting the purchase of Covid vaccines produced by their chosen companies, the EFF leaders were apprised of the status of licence applications that had been submitted by these companies. But the EFF was not going to allow that kind of information to stand in the way of their already planned show of strength. So, a scapegoat was found in the form of a preposterous allegation that Professor Helen Rees, Sahpra CEO, and Dr Fazel Randera, her husband, falsely alleged to be holders of Aspen shares, connived to prevent rivals from competing against Aspen, the already approved vaccine distributor. It did not matter that nary a shred of evidence could be produced to substantiate the scurrilous accusation. Notwithstanding that, Malema has threatened to call another EFF demonstration, this time at the Randera residence. Hopefully, this time the SAPS will be on hand to discharge its mandate of not only ensuring the safety and security of law-abiding citizens but also of enforcing covid regulations. 

. . . . . . . . . . .  .

A momentous event of our times this week was the finding by the Constitutional Court on 29 June 2021, that former president Jacob Zuma was guilty of contempt of court for defying its order that he appears at the Zondo Commission that was set up, incidentally by himself ruling. Acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe, handed down a 15-month custodial jail sentence.  

The justices were unanimous in finding Zuma guilty of contempt of court. However, two of the nine justices who adjudicated the case held a different opinion on the nature of the sentence to be imposed, making the sentencing a majority decision. That was enough to spawn fairy tales about the deficiency of the judgment and unleashed a torrent of mischief and outrightly subversive utterances by the ex-president’s supporters and sympathisers. Talk about contempt of court, and impunity! 

Who is supposed to protect a judiciary that is being increasingly insulted by disgruntled and malicious ignoramuses? Andile Lungisa, a councillor in the Nelson Mandela municipality who was recently released from prison after assaulting a fellow councillor, said “to hell with the decision” and accused the justices of becoming political activists. In a more measured, if curious, statement, the Jacob Zuma Foundation labelled the judgment as “not consistent with our Constitution”.            

Carl Niehaus, describing himself as the spokesperson of uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), which has been disbanded, charged that “the law was being abused for factional political reasons”. He said the Constitution is being abused and that “for the ConCourt to be part of such a disgraceful situation is an utter shame”. Amidst this voluble, if minority fury, there was overwhelming support for the ConCourt’s judgment. Suffice it to quote but one commentary, by Malaika Mahlatsi on her Facebook page on 30 June: 

“People must stop recruiting us into their unintellectual, immoral, opportunistic and degenerate ‘Black Conscious’ politics that are devoid of principle and consistency…”  

She  goes on: “There is a growing tendency in South Africa of resorting to pseudo-Black Consciousness to defend black leaders engaged in unethical, immoral and illegal conduct… The most degenerate of these politics can be seen whenever a black leader is charged with corruption…” On Zuma, she writes about “an attempt to resort to emotional blackmail about how he fought to liberate us and how worse criminals who facilitated apartheid were not punished [by our government].”

Most importantly, Mahlatsi continues: “There is something fundamentally rotten with the insistence on using the apartheid regime as a yardstick by which to measure the democratic dispensation… Using the conduct of apartheid criminals as comparison for our black leaders [should be] unthinkable. Our leaders fought against apartheid because they understood that it was not only a crime against humanity but was also an immoral system. They sought to fashion a higher civilisation, to create a world very different from the apartheid one. We held them to a higher moral standard.” (My own emphasis.)

 I have nothing else to add after Malaika. DM    


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  • Christopher Campbell says:

    Just an idle thought after seeing a program about Gaddafi’s missing BILLIONS [US Dollars] that have definitely been traced to South Africa. It is known that Gaddafi funded Mandela’s, Mbeki’s, and Zuma’s election campaigns. Zuma was backed against Mbeki because Mbeki didn’t support Gaddafi’s dream of becoming King of Africa. What if Zuma is now using the same tactics [and money] to fund the EFF as a thorn in the government’s side? What was that tea party all about? Enemies now friends? Hopefully just a bad dream, but not impossible.
    As for the police and the government, if they can’t control their laws and control civil disobedience, declare martial law, bring in the army, and sack the Police Minister and the heads of SAPS.
    I await with apprehension of what will happen in the next week.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    An excellent, and for me, very encouraging article. It adds impetus to this new trend in which the hitherto quiet, but massively in the majority, undercurrent of “the law-abiding citizen” begins to give voice. Amandla awethu.

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