|Policy, Law, Economics and Politics - Deepening Democracy through Access to Information||This privately-owned website is operated and maintained by Creamer Media|
Published: 28 Nov 2009
|DA: Zille: Speech by Democratic Alliance leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Congress, Durban (28/11/2009)|
Source: The Democratic Alliance
Title: DA: Zille: Speech by Democratic Alliance leader at the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Congress, Durban
Immediate Colleagues, friends, fellow democrats. This provincial congress gives us an opportunity to take stock of our achievements and to look ahead to the challenges we face. I am pleased to say that we have never been in a better position than we are today. We are growing in strength and number. The prospects for future growth look good. More and more people are aligning themselves to our vision of the open, opportunity society and rejecting the ANC's closed, crony system. We must continue to do all we can to grow our party. This means an unstinting commitment to developing a diverse and excellent corps of new DA leaders. It means forming alliances with other parties that share our core values. It means showing South Africa that life gets better for all where the DA governs. And it means doing all we can to stop Jacob Zuma's assault on the Constitution. I want to make something perfectly clear today: if we do not stop the erosion of the Constitution at the hands of Jacob Zuma, all efforts to grow our party will be futile. If Zuma is willing to ride roughshod over the Constitution to get into power, he will continue doing it to stay there. Last week, Julius Malema made the following statement: "We must not lay charges against one of our own. If we allow that, the same thing would happen to Robert Mugabe, and the same would happen to Jacob Zuma, and the next thing you know they will come for you." This, in a nutshell, encapsulates the boetie-boetie mentality of the ANC. It is to protect the politically powerful at all costs, no matter who or what suffers in the process. Many people are fooled by Zuma's warmth and affability. They do not see the warning lights flashing red. The result is a collective amnesia around the events that led up to Zuma's assumption of the Presidency. Well, allow me to refresh your memory. If we join all the dots we see how Jacob Zuma, behind a façade of charm, is slowly dismantling our Constitution, bit by bit. Let us go back to 2005 when President Mbeki fired his deputy, Jacob Zuma, after it emerged in court that Schabir Shaik had bribed him. Zuma, up until then a prime contender to succeed Mbeki, was effectively knocked out of the race. Zuma had two choices. He could go to trial to prove his innocence, expediting the court case so that he could have his day in court to clear his name. He would emerge from the trial vindicated and ready to serve. The whole saga would end there. Or, He could go to great lengths to avoid his trial, finding every conceivable legal technicality to delay his court case whilst his henchmen plotted a strategy to ensure he never had to stand trial at all. Zuma chose the second option. The strategy was to co-opt, cajole and neutralise every individual and institution that stood between him and the Presidency, regardless of whether these actions were lawful or even constitutional. The Zuma clique's prime target was Thabo Mbeki, not out of revenge as some people believe, but because it needed control of the powerful levers at the President's disposal. The first step was to depose Mbeki as ANC President. This was achieved through a dubious electoral process, resembling a coup, at the ANC's National Conference in Polokwane. The second step was to remove Mbeki as President of the Republic and install a Zuma surrogate. The Nicholson Judgment - which inferred, but never proved, that Mbeki had influenced the decision to charge Zuma - was the pretext Zuma needed. Mbeki was summarily ‘recalled' and replaced by Kgalema Motlanthe. There was no sham of an electoral process this time. It was a straight coup. Having unseated Mbeki as President, Zuma set his sights on the man with the power to decide whether to prosecute him or not: Vusi Pikoli, the National Director of Public Prosecutions. Pikoli had proven a difficult deployee, unwilling to do the bidding of either ANC faction. He had initiated the prosecution of Mbeki's friend, Jackie Selebi, and he had charged Zuma with corruption in 2005 and again in 2007. Ironically, it was Mbeki who gave the Zuma clique the excuse it needed to get rid of Pikoli. The Ginwala Commission, set up by Mbeki to probe Pikoli's fitness for office, was the perfect pretext to fire Pikoli even though the Commission found that Pikoli was, in fact, fit to hold office and should be re-instated. Zuma and his clique could not allow this to happen. If Pikoli was reinstated, the National Prosecuting Authority would continue its case against Zuma and destroy his chances of becoming President. To justify firing Pikoli, Motlanthe homed in on a peripheral aspect of the report which suggested that Pikoli had not displayed enough sensitivity to issues of national security, whatever that meant. That sealed Pikoli's fate and he was gone. Having used the powers of the President to get rid of Pikoli, the Zuma clique went after the Acting Head of the NPA, Mokotedi Mpshe. Mpshe, when Mbeki was President, had actually appealed the Nicholson judgment which had declared Zuma's prosecution invalid. But now that the Zuma clique was in charge, he was a push-over. Under political pressure Mpshe dropped the charges after Zuma's team gave him a taped conversation of former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and his former deputy Leonard McCarthy allegedly conspiring against Zuma. The fact that the NPA is legally obliged to prosecute in the face of the overwhelming prima facie evidence did not enter into it. The fact that it was Pikoli, not Ncguka and McCarthy, who charged Zuma was deemed irrelevant. And the fact that Judge Louis Harms had established the principle that a prosecution was not wrongful "merely because it is brought for an improper purpose" was ignored. This was yet another flimsy pretext conceived under political pressure from the ruling clique. Meanwhile, another Zuma acolyte, ambitious Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe had been driving another prong of the strategy - trying to influence Constitutional Court judges to find in favour of Zuma. In his meetings with two judges, Hlophe boasted that he was politically-connected and said that he came with a mandate. He explained that Jacob Zuma, like him, was being persecuted and that these judges represented "our last hope." This, at least, is the version of events that no less than the full Bench of the Constitutional Court set out in a sworn statement. It is a great credit to the Constitutional Court judges that they resisted Hlophe and blew the whistle. Indeed, it must have come as a shock to the Zuma clique who no doubt expected these judges to roll-over, as others have, in the face of the Zuma juggernaut. That the Constitutional Court judges had referred the matter to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) put the Zuma clique in a bind. It might well come out that Zuma, or someone close to him, had dispatched Hlophe to influence the judges. The only way to stop this was to stack the JSC with ANC members, which it duly did. The matter was inexplicably squashed, robbing us of the truth of what really happened. We were robbed off the truth again this week. Vusi Pikoli, a man who has in the past proved his independence, was paid R7.5 million to withdraw his court case against the government over his dismissal. Had he gone to court, the phony reasons for his suspension and dismissal would have been laid bare. The out-of-court settlement has opened the way for Zuma to appoint Menzi Simelane, a self-confessed "political animal" who says that he was deployed to the NPA to "implement the ANC's vision for the NPA." This is the same Menzi Simelane which the Ginwala Commission found had unlawfully interfered with the prosecutorial independence of the NPA when he was Director-General in the Department of Justice. The great irony is that Pikoli, who the Ginwala Commission found fit to hold office, was fired. Simelane, who the Ginwala Commission found was not fit and proper, has been appointed Pikoli's successor. Now that Zuma has his man in the NPA, he can sleep at night with the certainty that Simelane will never re-open the case against him, regardless of whatever new evidence comes to light. With the former President, the NPA, and the JSC taken care of, only one person remains to be taken care of - Zuma's erstwhile friend and financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. Shaik needs to be appeased because - as one half of a generally corrupt relationship - he has too much dirt on the President. The first step was to secure Shaik's release from jail in March on medical parole due to an unknown terminal illness. Anyone who believed that this was legitimate at the time soon saw it for what it was when Shaik was spotted in good health at various malls and golf clubs around Durban. The second step will be to grant Shaik the presidential pardon he applied for in April. The speculation is that Zuma will pardon Shaik and give him back the R39.2 million of his ill-gotten gains. This will come to pass, mark my words. The modus operandi of Zuma's ruling clique is clear. It is to remove any impediment to unfettered power, either through buying people off or using flimsy pretexts to get its way. Some will no doubt dismiss what I have described today as a work of fiction, the plot of a third-rate political thriller. They will say it is based on circumstantial evidence in the absence of hard proof. But when the truth is squashed, we have to make up our own minds based on the evidence available to us. If what I have said today is a lie, I would expect Zuma to sue me for libel. But he won't do that because it would mean proving me wrong in an open court. And Zuma is allergic to courts because they tend to reveal the truth. If the truth sets us free, the cover-ups and obfuscation keep us in chains. South Africa will never be a healthy constitutional democracy, unless we use every means at our disposal to make sure the truth comes out.