“Like that script from the movie Gladiator – dictators, and those who betray their respective oaths and dignity of political and public office should take stock – “The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end……!”
POLITICIANS AND CORRUPTION – TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN GLOBALLY ASKS ASEAN APEC LEAD HUMAN RIGHTS, POLITICAL ANALYST & INTELLIGENCE LEAD?
As I sat watching former South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, attempt a spin and try to politically initiate more time for a dignified exit, many thoughts crossed my mind!
Now looking back, was his presidency based on a lie, which was initiated by an overturned court judgment?
If I am not mistaken, did not the then 2005 South Africa President Thabo Mbeki fire Zuma, from his job as deputy president in the wake of the conviction of his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, on corruption and bribery charges?
Those like me trained in the law, would have found the super courage and conviction shown by Judge Hilary Squires who did not mince his words, when he placed the then deputy president Jacob Zuma at the center of his verdict against Shaik and his fellow accused encouraging?
More so, when His honor stated quite plainly that:
“ …all the accused companies were used at one time or another to pay sums of money to Jacob Zuma in contravention of section 1(1)(a)(I) or (ii) of the Corruption Act and accused number one directed them to that end or made payments himself, all the accused are found guilty on the main charge on count 1.”
The then President Thabo Mbeki’s then went on and made a super cut saying:
“The circumstances dictate that in the interest of the honorable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system, and our country, it would be best to release the Hon Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the Cabinet,”
At that juncture, Zuma was facing more than 700 counts of bribery, corruption and fraud according to reports.
And the record will show, he fought his way back to the summit of political power, which included an alleged rape charge and then he would dismantle the ability of the criminal justice system and the judiciary to act against him.
Even though he was found not guilty in the rape case, my learned friends, will remember South Africa high court judge WJ van der Merwe having strong words for Zuma, saying:
“Had Rudyard Kipling known of this case at the time he wrote his poem ‘If’ he might have added the following: ‘And if you can control your body and your sexual urges, then you are a man my son’.”
That did not shame him into retreating!
And to many of my dear friends who were political analyst and attorneys monitoring the South Africa scene like me – we were disturbed that by mid-2007 it was clear that Jacob Zuma’s campaign was no ordinary political sideshow.
He immobilized the former President and went on to take power!
That was super checkmate!
All the former President could do was to congratulate Jacob Zuma on his victory at Polokwane in 2007!
With more than 700 counts of corruption and fraud hanging over him, one would have thought it was simply untenable for him to assume the presidency immediately.
But he proved everyone wrong!
Finally, Zuma was handed a gift — a court judgment that offered him a path to power.
Judge Chris Nicholson, citing Mbeki’s interference with the prosecution, ruled that the decision to prosecute Zuma was “invalid and is set aside”.
The prosecution service needed to make up its mind afresh on charging Zuma, he said.
The courtroom erupted in applause.
Zuma, in a dark pinstriped suit rose to celebrate.
Fast forward – once he was in power, he moved to dis-band South Africa’s Scorpions, the independent “FBI-style” unit that was responsible for dealing with high-profile corruption cases.
It was the first action taken to keep him out of jail.
One must remember that absolutely no incoming president had been dealt as powerful a hand as Zuma since the days of the apartheid overlords.
There were vacancies that had to be filled in all the key criminal justice institutions and others in the corridor of power and business.
He could appoint a new police chief; a new national director of prosecutions; a new head of the secret service; and the head of the new Hawks unit, which would replace the Scorpions.
To put in a nut shell, what Zuma did was undermine the independence of the police and prosecutors!
But as history has shown repeatedly about dictators and those who abuse democratic processes and practices, they will fall eventually!
It was just a matter of time!
Like that script from the movie Gladiator – dictators, and those who betray their respective oaths and dignity of political and public office should take stock – “The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end……!
Despite a last moment attempt to again subvert – Jacob Zuma finally succumbed to growing pressure from the African National Congress and resigned as South Africa’s president!
Once a hero of the resistance to apartheid, he may now be remembered for increasingly embroiled in sordid corruption scandals?
I have but just one question – why do politicians on coming to power succumb to the sordid lure of power’s perks, corruption and other unethical behavior.
One final word!
South Africa as I write this piece is a nation economically adrift and unable to achieve the economic equality promised at the end of white rule.
The bigger challenge is the national elections in 2019.
We must pray for South Africa!