One wonders what people in South Africa and outside the borders of South Africa think about the laying of criminal charges by some politicians against other politicians - charges that don’t go anywhere because the police service and other law enforcement agencies, just like the rest of the civil service, are politicized.
Recently, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan laid criminal charges against Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. The following day Malema laid criminal charges against Gordhan. It was not the first time that a politician laid criminal charges against another politician. The leaders of the predominantly white political party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) have also laid criminal charges against former President Jacob Zuma. The police didn’t act and a few months later, the DA laid criminal charges again and again.
Nothing came out of these cases and it is most likely that the charges and counter charges playing themselves out between Gordhan and Malema are gimmicks. “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been prosecuting at the behest of the President. It remains to be seen if this trend will persist with the current President as head of state. During the recent interviews for the National Director of Public Prosecutions - which were open to the public for the first time since 1994 - it emerged that there were factions at the NPA. It was also revealed that the NPA went for the former Commissioner of Police instead of killers and gangsters during after the murder of Bret Kebble.
Mike Stainbank who owns the trademark to the Apartheid Museum has accused the judiciary of capture by white supremacists who write judgements for judges. Stainbank says he was failed by the judiciary, legislature and executive arms of government. So these governments pay lip service to the principle of separation of powers.
There is nothing as demoralising as a corrupt and biased justice system which is supposed to be the final arbiter in every society’s problems. If people are equal before the law, there can’t be a set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set of laws for the poor and powerless and a set of laws for people of European extraction or whites and another set of laws for Africans.
In Botswana, their constitution provides that a sitting President can’t be arrested and tried. That is probably why it is believed the former President Ian Khama, when he was President, ordered the murder of John Kalafatis and when those who executed the murder were arrested and sentenced to prison he pardoned them. A murder such as that of Kalafatis in Botswana carries the death penalty. However, those members of the Botswana Defence Force who murdered Kalafatis were not sentenced to death. Khama also manipulated the judiciary which elicited legal challenges from citizens and lawyers. He subsequently lost one or two of the major legal challenges against him. Khama was judge, jury and executioner. In my view Kalafatis’ case must be reopened of reviewed now that Khama is no longer President and since there is no statute of limitations in murder cases. Botswana’s archaic and colonial era constitution needs to be amended or redrafted.
In South Africa, law enforcement agencies are scared to arrest rich and powerful people. They are also scared to arrest white people. For example, Markus Jooste of Steinhoff fleeced pensioners of billions of rand. Those pensioners have their pensions at the Public Investment Corporation. Jooste got away without even a slap on the wrist. He just appeared before one of those bogus parliamentary committees and just spewed gobbledygook. He should have been arrested but the police and the Hawks are emasculated and indecisive because Jooste is white and rich.
The Oppenheimers, Ruperts and Wieses are above the law in South Africa. The Oppenheimers have their private terminal at OR International Airport which was established through crooked ways but the ANC is unable to rescind that decision because they are scared of the Oppenheimers. Christo Wiese was once found in possession of a million rand at Heathrow Airport but the South African government did not charge him for violating South Africa’s currency laws when he returned to the country.
Former President Jacob Zuma and his associates should have long been arrested. He squandered billions of rand with the Guptas while many former exiles lived in abject poverty. To rub salt into a wound, the Special Pension fund for struggle veterans was looted by Treasury and nobody has been brought to book.
It is difficult to understand why the police and other law enforcement agencies needed permission from the President to effect an arrest, especially arrests involving the rich and powerful. In all fairness to the incumbent this has not happened since he assumed office. I am referring to his predecessors. During Thabo Mbeki’s tenure, Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher’s son was let off the hook when he was supposed to have been extradited to Zimbabwe or Equatorial Guinea where he was one of those who plotted to overthrow that country’s government. His accomplices had been arrested in Zimbabwe. He should be declared persona non grata In South Africa but it is possible that Mark Thatcher comes as he pleases in and out of this banana republic.
Julius Malema says there is a leadership vacuum in South Africa and that President Cyril Ramaphosa should go back to business. I am not defending Ramaphosa, he is capable of doing it himself. However, Malema should sometimes keep quiet or reflect on his utterances before he speaks. This is a man who supported Zuma with all his being and even vowed to kill for him. South Africa is in a mess it is today because of Zuma whose presidential bid Malema supported.
There has been a leadership vacuum in South Africa and the ANC beginning with the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955 through to the 1980’s when ANC leaders secretly negotiated the future of South Africa without the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) further dividing the oppressed people for the second time in the critical time of South Africa’s history. The PAC and BCM provided critical leadership in South Africa’s revolution.
Malema and Gordhan are not angels in this unfolding saga of criminal charges and counter criminal charges. The police and law enforcement agencies need to do their job unfettered by political considerations. Malema is allegedly being probed for involvement in a R1.26 billion tender by the mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba. The civil service needs to be depoliticised as a matter of urgency.
Finally, I argued in the conclusion of my article in the Business Day in 2015 that South Africa was built on the foundation of sand and still maintain that view.
By Sam Ditshego