Zille blames ‘cadre deployment’ for arms cover-up

Noting that this week the Hawks announced they were shutting down the arms-deal investigation, and that there was no public outcry, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, pointed out that there comes a time when a country starts to suffer from scandal fatigue.

“Corrupt governments [specially those whose prospects of re-election are secure] know that most corruption scandals eventually fizzle out if the cover-up can be dragged out long enough,” she said.

Writing on Friday in her weekly on-line newsletter, SA Today, Zille vigorously insisted an opposition party could not afford the luxury of succumbing to scandal fatigue. “We will continue digging and we believe that eventually, the truth will out,” she said.

She went on to say that the way in which President Jacob Zuma’s legal team has used every possible delaying tactic during the past decade to prevent the substantive case from being tested in a competent court is a scandal in its own right.

“The abuse of the criminal justice system in the arms-deal cover-up will do even more damage to our country’s constitutional democracy than the corruption itself,” she said.

She wondered how the ANC managed to cover up such a massive corruption scandal, involving so many individuals, for so long, and get away with it. Why have all the mechanisms of SA’s constitutional democracy — the media, the courts, the opposition — failed to do more than scratch the surface of this matter?

She stated: “I believe the root cause of the rot, and the cover-up, can be summarised in two words: cadre deployment. The key lesson of our continent over the past half-century is that this form of political patronage is incompatible with constitutional democracy. Indeed, it is the root cause of the failed state.”

Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, declared that looking back over the past decade, it is clear that the arms-deal corruption was so successfully covered up because, at nearly every step of the way, there was a deployed ANC cadre who was willing to play his or her part in squashing the investigation.

“If they were not prepared to do so, they were simply removed, and ‘re-deployed’, bringing their political careers to an end,” she said.

“Until the truth is uncovered, the arms deal will remain a festering sore on our body politic. Not just because of the scale of the corruption involved, but because of the way that constitutional institutions were manipulated and politicised through cadre deployment, with profound and lasting implications.

“In fact, through cadre deployment, the ANC has fundamentally undermined our Constitution without changing a single word of it.” — I-Net Bridge

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Michael Hamlyn
Michael Hamlyn works from Cape Town. Late middle age journalist
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