/ 7 August 2014

Letters to the editor: August 8 to 14 2014

Protests should use legal means of recourse to express grievances
Protests should use legal means of recourse to express grievances

EFF toys with hate speech

The media has reported extensively on the chaotic and unruly conduct of the EFF and its supporters in storming the Gauteng legislature (“Life goes on without the EFF“). In response to this, the police were compelled to use force to contain their belligerent actions.

We must ask what democracy tolerates by virtue of freedom of expression and legitimate political activity, versus the kind of conduct that is criminal and is the very antithesis of constitutional democracy.

Section 17 of the Constitution declares that the right to assembly, demonstration, picket and petition must be peaceful and unarmed, and cannot justify criminal conduct. Also, freedom of expression does not extend to advocacy for war, incitement to imminent violence or the advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion.

It appears the Economic Freedom Fighters members manifestly overstepped the border between robust political activity and criminal conduct involving public violence, malicious damage to property, race hatred and incitement to cause harm. If a minority using violent and criminal tactics endeavours to force its ideas and policies on to the majority, then democracy is undermined. This is exactly what the EFF is apparently trying to accomplish.

The EFF, in storming the Gauteng legislature and causing havoc in the precincts of a democratically elected body involved in legitimate deliberation, were behaving in a fascist manner. This should be censured in the strongest possible language and the law must take it course in relation to alleged criminal conduct.

What the EFF wishes to do is to make Gauteng ungovernable and, out of the ensuing havoc, derive political gains. Making a province ungovernable borders on seditious conduct and needs to be dealt with as such.

If the EFF is unhappy with the treatment its members received in the legislature or elsewhere, they can have recourse to the courts. The burning of T-shirts and the denigration of the president is behaviour that borders on hate speech. A careful balancing of the conflicting interests of public order and individual rights is the essence of democracy premised on the rule of law.

Political maturity is essential to discerning what is permissible in a democratic body politic. Metaphorically, we need to draw a line in the sand.

Mob rule and its tactics are the very antithesis of democracy. Liberty is never licence, and the Constitution’s limitation clause permits reasonable restraints on political conduct and speech. – George Devenish, Durban

Thuthukile Zuma’s job insults our democracy

The letter from Lebo Keswa (“Media narrative stuck on the ‘corrupt’ Zumas“) reveals how shockingly far we still have to go towards democracy in South Africa. To defend this blatant act of nepotism – the appointment of President Jacob Zuma’s daughter, the 25-year-old Thuthukile, to the senior post of chief of staff to the minister of posts and telecommunications – shows complete ignorance of a culture of democracy. 

We cannot have government officials appointing their relatives to senior posts that have not been advertised.  It is understood that democratic processes must prevail for democracy to come into being. 

The essence of Keswa’s letter is that the Zuma family are exempt from public scrutiny, even suggesting that the Zuma circle could provide a “pool from which political appointments [could be] made”. 

The tendency to defend the Zuma name at all costs flies in the face of what we know to be happening in the Zuma camp, what with Nkandla and the refusal to hand over the “spy tapes”.  Every undemocratic action is a nail in the coffin of our nation’s democracy. – Irma Liberty, Rondebosch

Thuthukile Zuma. (Vathiswa Ruselo, Gallo)

– Sdumo Dlamini of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Blade Nzimande of the South African Communist Party, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj and ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa will lambast the Mail & Guardian for exposing how the daughter of President Jacob Zuma, Thuthukile Zuma, got a lucrative post in the ministry of telecommunications and postal services.

Yet if a daughter of Thabo Mbeki or Kgalema Motlanthe or Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka or Tokyo Sexwale had been given such a job, the above-mentioned comrades would be writing articles in the media and hogging talk shows condemning these leaders for putting family interests before that of the people.

Our people must become wise and intelligent so that they understand why Zuma wanted a secrecy law. Had the law been passed, the M&G would have been raided by the Hawks in the same way as the private homes of National Prosecuting Authority workers were raided.

To our president, with his four wives and more than 100 companies, his combined income is not enough to take care of his family, therefore his family members must get employment high up in government. A wise leader would have deployed his family members to his many companies rather than to government.

Young people are joining the exodus to the Economic Freedom Front because of Zuma’s cronyism.

In countries with weak media, corrupted civil servants and judiciary, the story of Thuthukile Zuma would have been suppressed and the M&G banned for telling us the truth.

The Guptas’ newspaper and TV channel would not have published the story of Thuthukile Zuma. Well done, M&G – expose the truth without fear or favour. – Nthabiseng Segone, Katlehong