South Africa's Jiminy Cricket

The Congress of the People’s Mvume Dandala moved his party’s election to the rails this week as he mingled with commuters on the Pretoria-Johannesburg line.

While some cheered him as he moved from carriage to carriage, others appeared not to recognise the ANC breakaway party’s presidential candidate. This was in contrast to Jacob Zuma’s visit to the Johannesburg station recently, where he was mobbed by commuters wanting to get a closer look at the ANC leader.

Zuma has kept busy crisscrossing the country in the in the run-up to the election. The ANC also seems to have stepped up their election poster campaign as April 22 nears. There now appear to be more shiny new ANC posters gracing our lampposts than all other contenders.

The ruling party also seemed to have shrugged off last week’s criticism about the decision not to allow the Dalai Lama into the country. This appears not to be a key concern of their core electorate.

It is now all but a fait accompli that Zuma will be the next president of South Africa. This however did not stop South Africa’s Jiminy Cricket, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, saying this week that he was not looking forward to a Zuma presidency. He said while Zuma was a ‘warm and friendly” man, he hoped, for Zuma’s sake, that there would not be a political solution.

‘If he is innocent as he has claimed to be, for goodness sake, let it be a court of law that says so,” said Tutu.

As the Mail & Guardian‘s Sam Sole writes in this week’s edition, the brouhaha surrounding the president-in-waiting has diverted attention from the facts of the case, which, he notes, he has consistently failed to answer

The charge sheet against Zuma and the French arms company Thint discloses that between October 25 1995 and July 1 2005 Zuma or his family received 783 payments totalling R4 072 499,85 from fraud convict Schabir Shaik or his companies.

‘The fact of these payments has never been seriously challenged. The fact of a long-term regular benefit flowing from Shaik to Zuma is incontrovertible. Were these payments corruptly received or did Zuma take them innocently, with no intent to use his influence to benefit Shaik?” writes Sole.

We may never know.

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Most-read stories

March 19 to 25 2009

1. Zuma tapes split NPA
The National Prosecuting Authority is reeling over “devastating” evidence of collusion between its former officials and former president Thabo Mbeki in the prosecution of Jacob Zuma—but NPA leaders are divided about whether the charges against the ANC president are affected and should be dropped.

2. Hani not yet laid to rest
A new book by political commentator RW Johnson is likely to rekindle the long-simmering controversy about the assassination of Chris Hani—and the alleged role of Thabo Mbeki protegé and former defence minister Joe Modise.

3. Hogan: Dead minister walking
Health Minister Barbara Hogan may face disciplinary action over her public criticism of the government’s visa ban on the Dalai Lama—but she has the support of many in her party.

4. Lekota: Cope not ‘party of my dreams’
After repeated denials that leaders of the Congress of the People are at odds, party president Mosiuoa Lekota has finally conceded that all is not sweetness and light in the new party.

5. The second wife’s wedding
The voyeur and keen observer of human nature in me could not resist when I was invited to attend a friend’s wedding in the Eastern Cape.

6. Hlongwane the ‘mole’ returns to ANC
The Congress of the People (Cope) said its former election coordinator Mlungisi Hlongwane—who returned to the African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday—was suspected of being an ANC mole.

7. Judge Kate O’Regan wades into Dalai Lama debate
Constitutional Court judge Kate O’Regan has come out in support of Health Minister Barbara Hogan who spoke out against a government decision to refuse the Dalai Lama entry to South Africa, SABC radio news reported on Thursday.

8. ‘We will teach you to make love again’
My son Luca was about three days old when the pretty nurse left a white slip of paper on my hospital bed. “What’s this?” I said, confused, sitting up from the chair where I was struggling to breastfeed.

9. NPA meets to discuss Zuma charges
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of dropping graft charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma, an official said.

10. Hlophe changes tack ahead of JSC hearing
On the eve of a disciplinary hearing into his conduct, Cape Judge President John Hlophe appears to be altering his legal strategy.

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