Paul Hoffman – South Africa is looking to some like the ‘useful idiot’ for Hamas, Iran 

Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now speaks to BizNews about South Africa’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) litigation which some see as a principled effort to prevent alleged genocide while other say it is an ideologically-based ploy to isolate Israel and bring down constitutionalism under the rule of law sponsored by the theocracy in Iran. He talks about the alleged sponsorship from Iran to get the ruling African National Congress (ANC) out of its financial hole; and the South African taxpayer being theoretically responsible for the multi-million rand cost of the application – unless it was sponsored by another country. Hoffman points out that South Africa itself is in breach of international obligations because of its failure to put in place adequately independent anti-corruption machinery. It is also in breach of human rights obligations because of its failure to comply with a related judgment from the highest court in the land, as well as its failure to deliver services.Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:11 – Introduction
  • 00:54 – South Africa’s Case Against Israel at the International Court of Justice
  • 07:35 – ANC’s Financial Recovery and the ICJ Move
  • 10:18 – Who’s paying for it?
  • 12:25 – The Proposed Independent Directorate Against Corruption (IDAC)
  • 21:01 – The Future of Anti-Corruption Commission in South Africa
  • 25:35 – Contradictions in South Africa’s Approach to International Law and Human Rights

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Here are some of the highlights from the interview


The possible agenda of the ANC’s ICJ action:

“What I can tell you is that South Africa itself is a constitutional democracy under the rule of law to which the ANC tends to pay lip service when it suits them.

“Now, the role of South Africa in this is viewed by some observers with a great deal of skepticism, either as the amanuensis of the theocrats in Iran or as the useful idiots of the Hamas brigades who have stoked up the violence and war really in israel and in Gaza as well.

“So if you take a look at the interaction between Iran and South Africa since the Hamas attack on Israel you’ll see that we have had quite a lot of interaction not only with Iran, but also with the Hamas leadership who actually visited Pretoria. The Minister of International Relations visited Iran and out of that has come the application that has been made in the ICJ by South Africa – and whether that is a principled stand on the part of a government that truly takes its human rights obligations seriously and seeks to enforce the anti-genocide international laws, or whether it is a ploy on the part of those who would see Israel destroyed and Hamas – and indeed its sponsors in Iran – prevailing in Israel in a way that will undermine constitutional democracy under the rule of law and advance the agenda of those who align themselves with Hamas and Iran being an Islamic theocracy and Hamas’s own declared intent to destroy the state of Israel.”

Read more: What we can expect from ICJ hearings on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel

“…allegedly, there has been some sponsorship coming from Iran to get South Africa, to get the ANC out of the hole that it founded, the financial hole that it found itself in…

“…these days it’s necessary to declare the donations that are made to political parties. So time will tell whether the solution, the admitted solution to the ANC’s financial problems is attributable to a money flow from those in the theocratic orbit of Iran and Hamas, or whether there is some other fairy godfather who has provided the funding that the ANC was so short of that it was unable until recently to pay its staff at the Luthuli House.”

The cost of the application:

“I don’t know who’s paying for it. In legal theory, because South Africa is the applicant in the case, the government of South Africa will pay for it, which will mean that you and I as taxpayers in South Africa are subsidising. It’s not as though the ANC is the applicant in the matter. The South African government, which can rightly point to its duty to uphold human rights and to the exhortation in the preamble of the Constitution that we should take our rightful place in the family of nations. Now, whether doing what has been done is an exercise in pumping up the theocratic ideology that underlies Hamas and Iran’s stance on Israel or whether it is a genuine human rights anti-genocide campaign on the part of the South African government, we will learn when the ICJ gives its judgments in the matter.”

The ANC plan for an Independent Directorate Against Corruption (IDAC):

“…IDAC, the plan being hatched by the Cabinet…what the Deputy Minister of Justice has called a stopgap measure. Why a stopgap measure when the rules were laid down in 2011, it is hard to work out. He suggests that it will enable the National Prosecuting Authority to recruit trained specialists. Well, the Scorpions got seriously burnt when they were disbanded by the same ANC. And I will be very surprised to see any of the former Scorpions coming back into IDAC on a hope and a prayer that IDAC will not suffer the same fate as the Scorpions suffered, namely summary closure when it starts doing its job against politicians well. 

“IDAC will be subject to closure by a simple majority in Parliament and that to my way of thinking and…of many others in the legal fraternity is just not good enough. It takes us back to where we were before the Scorpions were disbanded. And we don’t want to be there. 

“Now, the independence criterion is really the most important one. You need to be structurally and operationally independent of interference, impedance, influence from the executive branch of Government and that simply does not apply to the NPA or IDAC.

Read more: South Africa’s chances of winning case against…

“And we know from bitter experience that no leader of the NPA has ever survived his or her term of office as the leader of the supposedly independent anti-corruption or prosecuting authority in South Africa. And this is because the NPA is run as a programme of the Department of Justice that is hardly independent. The NPA is subject to the final responsibility of the Minister of Justice. While that is going on, the NPA is answerable to the minister. 

“And when you’re looking for proper anti-corruption machinery for your new IDAC, you also need to get the director-general to sign off on it. And the director-general is obviously answerable to the minister. And that means that the unfortunate experiences of the past are likely to continue.”

The Anti-Corruption Commission Alternative: 

“What really needs to happen is that a suitably independent body needs to be established outside of the NPA. And that is not what the ANC wants to do. And the ANC commands at the moment enough seats in the National Assembly to prevent that reform from happening – despite the willingness of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party), which are the second and fourth biggest. In fact, the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) is also on board for a Chapter 9 institution to do the work of combating serious corruption in South Africa. So all of the opposition parties combined cannot command a sufficient majority in the current parliament to make the necessary reform actually happen.”

Will the Anti-Corruption Commission ever see the light of day?

“…we know that the IDAC bill is vulnerable to being shot down if it becomes law in litigation before the court. In fact, there is a great vulnerability because the government has never fully implemented the criteria laid down by the court. The court does not say what needs to happen, what structure needs to be put in place; the court simply identifies the criteria that must be complied with so that South Africa is in a position to comply with its human rights obligations – and corruption has been identified as an enemy of human rights because the money that is meant to go to poverty alleviation actually goes to the pockets of the looters; and a lot of the corruption in South Africa has to do with channeling public money away from the deserving poor and into the pockets of the looters, the kleptocrats, the tenderpreneurs and their fellow travelers. 

“…IDAC simply does not cut the mustard. It is not good enough to comply with the criteria of independence, adequate resourcing and secure tenure of office. And that being so, the possibility exists that some horse trading between IDAC and the DA private members bills aimed at a Chapter 9 institution will take place during the dying days of the current Parliament and that… some sort of deal can be done so that IDAC doesn’t happen and that an indpendent body does see the light of day.”

SA’s own breach of international- and human rights obligations:

“We are in breach of our international obligations under UNCAC, which is the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, because that requires South Africa to put in place adequately independent anti-corruption machinery. And we are in breach of our human rights obligations as sketched in the Glenister Joint Judgment of 17th March, 2011. It’s time to get real about corruption before corruption brings South Africa to its knees.”

Read more: Magnus Heystek: The JSE’s slow demise as Ramaphoria turns to Dysphoria

SA going after another country for contravening international law and human rights obligations while itself is guilty of such contraventions:

“Service delivery has not taken place as it should have taken place in South Africa. And the result of that is that most of the children in South Africa are not adequately educated and are not adequately fed. Some of them die of starvation. Others of the children of South Africa grow up stunted, which means that they will not be able to live a full and dignified life because of the brain damage that is done by malnutrition – and the deaths of small children and the family suicides that we read about in the Eastern Cape are horrific, as horrific as what is going on in Gaza, as a result of intentional activity simply because the government led by the ANC is not sufficiently competent, too negligent to actually attend to the issues on the ground, which involve water in the taps, electricity in the switches, and food on the table, health care for all. 

“Those things are all guaranteed human rights in South Africa and they are not happening on a grand scale in South Africa. So yes, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but South Africa is not guilty of…nobody’s suggesting that a genocide is going on in South Africa. And the argument about whether there is a genocide in Gaza at the moment is one in which we all eagerly await the findings of the International Court of Justice, the ICJ.”

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