Editorial: Zuma gangs up on democracy

The president of the country consorting with known gang bosses? And doing so not to redirect them down the paths of righteousness, but to enlist their support in winning back the Western Cape from the Democratic Alliance before the 2011 local elections?

Nothing could more graphically highlight the ANC’s moral slippage under Jacob Zuma, and the ANC’s frantic desire to extend single-party rule to every corner of South Africa, than this extraordinary claim.

Allegedly present at the meeting at Zuma’s official Cape Town residence were such paragons as Quinton “Mr Big” Marinus and Igshaan Davids, said to be the leader of Cape Town’s largest street gang, the Americans.

The man said to have brought the parties together was Lloyd Hill, another underground figure from Durban with whom the Zuma family is understood to have a long association.

It might be argued that the gangsters infiltrated, or were mistakenly included, in what was intended as a presidential encounter with prominent representatives of the coloured community. Also in attendance were Griqua royalty and religious leaders.

But can Zuma really have been unaware of who he was dealing with and their unsavoury reputations? If so, either he and/or his advisers have lost contact with the country that he and his party supposedly preside over.

A quick internet search makes it clear that his guests that day have all repeatedly been at the centre of controversy. Marinus, described in media reports as the kingpin of South Africa’s largest crime syndicate, has appeared in court on multiple charges of murder, robbery, fraud and abalone poaching – of which he was later acquitted.

He was recently sequestrated by the revenue service for failing to pay R3.2-million in taxes and lost his luxury pad in Cape Town’s upmarket Plattekloof.

Davids was convicted of five crimes between 1989 and 2014, including culpable homicide, for which he received a seven-year jail sentence.

As our lead story this week reports, Hill has also had serious brushes with the law, including being arrested on a murder charge that was later dropped after a potential state witness was strangled in prison.


Apart from claims that the meeting discussed ways in which the gangsters could assist in the ANC’s Western Cape election campaign ¬– a party-specific issue that has no bearing on the welfare of the coloured community or the country at large – Marinus is said to have raised his difficulties with the South African Revenue Service.

One might expect South Africa’s first citizen to stamp on any discussion of this matter – after all, the revenue service is supposed to be an independent agency. Instead, Zuma allegedly offered to “look into” it.

There are also suggestions that “business opportunities” were offered for electoral assistance and that the Gupta family may have been involved. The Guptas’ spokesperson, Gary Naidoo, failed to answer questions this week.

It appears that Zuma’s son, Duduzane, was aware that the encounter might not be universally applauded if it leaked out – when the gangster’s convoy arrived at the gates of the presidential residence, he is said to have instructed the security guards not to sign in the visitors. Neither he nor his father would comment, with the president’s office dismissing the allegations as “gossip”.

At issue is both Zuma’s apparent willingness to bend the rules, visible in many other contexts, and the ANC’s impotent outrage over the DA’s majority support among the Western Cape’s coloured voters.

There have been repeated DA claims of dirty-tricks campaigns in the province, including the use of underworld connections. As next year’s local elections approach, watch this space …

*This comment originally appeared as an editorial in the Mail & Guardian.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Click here.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Drew Forrest
Guest Author
Advertising

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday