Mantashe: Zuma's prosecution is an attack on ANC
The conflation of African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s legal woes with the ruling party continued on Wednesday—both in and outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
Zuma came before Judge Leona Theron to confirm August 25 as the date for the ANC president’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution on criminal charges, including fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering. The criminal case against Zuma was also adjourned to August 25.
His co-accused, Thint (PTY) Limited and Thint Holding (South Africa) Limited, will have their application for a permanent stay of execution heard on June 24 and 25.
ANC lawyer, Asif Latib, confirmed that the party would join Zuma as amicus curiae (friends of the court) for both the high court application and Zuma’s appeal to the Constitutional Court to have Supreme Court of Appeal judge Louis Harms’s January verdict overturned.
Earlier this year Harms overturned high court Judge Chris Nicholson’s findings that there was a political conspiracy behind the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) criminal charges against Zuma.
Nicholson had thrown out these charges and instructed the NPA to reconstitute them.
Latib said Zuma’s criminal charges were “not in the interests of the nation. The ANC, as custodian of the interest of the nation as the ruling party, believes it is not in the interests of the country. This is what we will try to prove in court.”
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told a crowd of about 3 000 gathered outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court that Zuma’s prosecution was “not about Jacob Zuma, it is about the ANC” and that dark powers were intent on dividing the ANC, “derailing the revolution” and obliterating “the gains” of an ANC government.
“This is part of a multi-pronged strategy to attack the ANC — They are attacking Jacob Zuma because if you hit the head, you will hit the body too — these attacks on Zuma will spread [to others in the ANC],” said Mantashe.
He added that these dark powers were also intent on hurting the ANC’s electoral campaign and “stopping Zuma from becoming president”.
Zuma also told the crowd that he would not step down as the ANC’s presidential candidate in the upcoming elections because he believed in South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
“What has happened to me is that certain people have thrown this dark cloud to me with the aim of demonising me,” said Zuma.
“So if I step aside, a bad precedent will be created. People will know that if you hate somebody, you just throw a dark cloud and it is the end of the story.
“South Africa is a constitutional democracy and we [the ANC] respect the Constitution. The Constitution says you are innocent until proven guilty — If I step down then I am admitting that I am guilty,” said Zuma.
Political analyst Prince Mashele said: “The implication is that we are likely to have a sitting president who will shuttle between the Union Buildings and court.”
The trial would “suck the moral content” out of society because a president was supposed to embody national values.
The ANC Youth League also lashed out at the NPA on Wednesday, asking why it would want to embarrass Zuma by putting him on trial.
“When Zuma comes back to court in August he will come back as the president of this country and the judges will have to address him as the president,” said ANCYL president Julius Malema in Pietermaritzburg.
“I just want to ask those who are behind this case if they would be proud to prosecute their own president, and embarrass their own country.”
Malema reiterated the league’s support for Zuma as the ANC’s “face for the elections”.
“When we campaign we must campaign as if there are no charges against Zuma,” Malema told a crowd gathered outside the court.
“We must undermine these charges because they think that they will stop us.”
The Young Communist League’s Buti Manamela complained that Zuma was appearing for the “100th time”, but said they would still support him.
“Those whose objective is to put him behind bars, we are here for Zuma,” he said.
“Zuma will be president when he comes back to court, whether the National Prosecuting Authority or [it’s acting head] Mokotedi Mpshe wants it or not,” said Manamela.
Zille: Zuma likely to abuse office
Meanwhile, DA leader Helen Zille charged on Wednesday that Zuma was more likely than former president Thabo Mbeki to abuse the office to protect and enrich himself and his clique.
“Cadre deployment is one of the key tools of abuse. Unless we get rid of it now, South Africa will become a failed state, like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, where corrupt leaders have made poor people poorer,” Zille told a public meeting in East London.
She said the ANC formally adopted a cadre deployment policy in 1997, dispatching party loyalists to do its bidding in the public service, local government administration and independent state institutions.
This had entrenched the party’s power and created a closed circle of party cronies who reaped the spoils of office.
“Cadre deployment has also given the ANC’s leadership cabal unsurpassed control over those institutions—such as the NPA—which the Constitution designed and intended to limit the ruling party’s power.
“It is the reason why the contest between rival factions in the ANC became so fierce in the run-up to Polokwane, and why state institutions such as the NPA became embroiled in an internal party conflict.”
Zille said that once factionalism became rife within the ruling party, it was inevitable that cadres would use the institutions they led to fight battles on behalf of their political masters and persecute their political opponents.
“The DA recognised as far as back as 1997 that the practice would lead to a blurring of party and state. We warned that it would inevitably result in the cronyism and corruption that is the hallmark of the failed state,” she said.
“It should sound alarm bells for the ANC that the time has arrived to abandon cadre deployment once and for all, and it should prompt Jacob Zuma to set the ball in motion.
“But he will not do this, because he needs the policy of cadre deployment for his own political survival.
“He needs to deploy members of his clique to institutions of state to protect himself.”
Zille accused Zuma of doing “everything to avoid his day in court in order to gain the power of the presidency”.
She referred to accusations that Zuma wanted his former attorney Muzi Wilfred Mkhize appointed as the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to make the case against him “go away”.
“Why would Zuma want an independent person as the NDPP when he [Mkhize] is facing allegations of 783 counts of bribery over 10 years involving R4,2-million?” she asked.
“It is time to say no to the closed circle of corrupt ANC cronies, no to cadre deployment, and yes to the DA’s vision of an open, opportunity society.
“In the open, opportunity society it is the best person for the job who is appointed, not the best person for the party. We will stop cadre deployment once and for all.”
Blaming cadre deployment for the split in the ANC, Zille said this was to the benefit of not just the DA, but democracy, as it meant the ANC was no longer guaranteed majorities in every province.