The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
South Africa has descended into kleptocracy – rule by thieves. Evidence has mounted over the past year of a concerted plan to take control of state assets for personal benefit. This ‘state capture’ strategy is being executed by President Jacob Zuma and his allies in senior political figures and across state entities. It explains why the grossly incompetent Dudu Myeni remains at the helm of national airline SAA and why the publicly disgraced former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe was pushed into a political job even though his name is linked to financial irregularity. Also under the control of Zuma and his friends are law enforcement agencies, with senior figures protecting the captured and corrupt. With the courts the only place left for good to win over evil, the justice system is under attack. Evidently unable to control judges en masse, the state capture gang has turned to sinister methods to silence those with any power left to bring the corrupt to book. That is the theory of DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who says the recent break-in at the office of the Chief Justice is a direct attack on the judiciary by Zuma’s “state security thugs”. That type of behaviour brought down US President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. But, the downfall of Zuma and his gang over these acts is unlikely for now. Maimane warns that with an intimidated or captured judiciary, South Africa must inevitably head the way of Zimbabwe and Venezuela. South Africa could easily end up back in the situation many South Africans faced during apartheid: with nowhere to turn for protection from a hostile state. This is a frightening, and very real, scenario. Only with significant political change at the next election is there any real hope for an improvement. – Jackie Cameron
By Mmusi Maimane
Justice Malala recently wrote: “These are dangerous times indeed. The state and its leader have gone rogue”. The break-in at the office of the Chief Justice on Saturday shows just how true his words are. This is a direct attack on the judiciary by Jacob Zuma’s state security thugs. The Constitution is what stands between Zuma’s mafia state and the ability to loot with impunity. We would do well to defend it with all our might.
The timing of the break-in is no coincidence. It happened the day after our courts delivered two judgements that dealt significant blows to Zuma’s state capture agenda. The Constitutional Court ruled that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, a key driver of Zuma’s succession agenda, displayed gross incompetence in fulfilling her duties to ensure that South Africa’s poorest continue to receive social grants.
On the same day, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that Major General Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks was irrational and invalid.
The Hawks is a specialist police unit, specifically tasked with fighting corruption. Despite two previous court rulings that Ntlemeza is unfit to head it, Police Minister Nhleko, another of Zuma’s lackeys, insisted on retaining him.
The fact is, our state has been captured by a crime syndicate that cannot tolerate an independent corruption-busting unit that actually does its job. This is why Nhleko is now appealing this ruling, at taxpayers’ expense.
These rulings are major setbacks for the Zuma mafia’s state capture agenda. The checks and balances in a constitutional democracy are specifically designed to protect ordinary citizens from the abuse of power. When you control the executive, and have a supine ANC caucus in the legislature, then only the judiciary is left as an obstacle. Our legal benches are filled with independent thinkers who understand objectivity, believe in the rule of law and who defend the Constitution without fear or favour. And it is both fear and favour that Zuma’s mafia is now trying to extract from the judiciary.
The break in at the offices of the Chief Justice represents an attack on the judiciary…easily our last hope in South Africa.
— #Mphankomo (@Ngwanyisto) March 18, 2017
The only plausible inference from this bizarre story is that the break-in at the offices of the Chief Justice was deliberately staged in order to intimate judges into submission. Fifteen computers holding the personal information of South Africa’s 250 judges were stolen, from the second floor of a building with dozens of other computers and other valuables in it, all of which were left untouched.
The message to judges is clear: oppose us at your peril. If this sounds alarmist, consider that on Monday the house of Zane Dangor, who resigned as Social Development Director General earlier this month in opposition to Dlamini’s handling of the social grants matter, was broken into by two men looking specifically for his laptop. They didn’t get it, because he had it on him and he wasn’t home, but they assaulted his son.
The message is clear: talk, and we’ll come for you.
On Wednesday, in a pitiful attempt to portray the break-in at the Chief Justice’s office as a burglary, the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, announced that three arrests had been made. This was a poorly concealed setup: one of the three “suspects” was released the same day with no charges against him, and the charge sheets for the other two contained no mention of the break-in.
In South Africa only the Judiciary is doing a good job at holding Cabinet accountable. The job of @ParliamentofRSA is to sleep.
— Hon. Ndumiso (@ChimCham7) March 15, 2017
A politically intimidated or captured judiciary could leave us in the predicament that Zimbabweans and Venezuelans now face, and that the majority of South Africans faced during Apartheid South Africa: with no-one to turn to for protection from a hostile state. One step the DA would take to prevent this ever happening in South Africa, would be to allocate funds for a security budget for the judiciary. The judiciary shouldn’t have to rely on SAPS for protection, because SAPS answers to the executive.
The fact is, the judiciary is a direct threat to Zuma’s state capture project and he is using all available levers to fight it. For the Zuma mafia, nothing is sacred. They are taking a scorched earth approach to secure their survival. Very soon, those within the ANC who treasure our constitutional democracy will have to choose between their party, or a prosperous, free South Africa governed by a diverse group of people, bound by their steadfast commitment to the Constitution and its rule of law.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.