Trump, Zuma are peas in a pod, reducing the US and SA to banana ...

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Trump, Zuma are peas in a pod, reducing the US and SA to banana republics

Both wage war on truth and undermine their citizens, determined to evade justice and recapture the state

Columnist
US president Donald Trump is still banging on about electoral fraud.
PEOPLE'S POWER BE DAMNED US president Donald Trump is still banging on about electoral fraud.
Image: Carlos Barria/Reuters

The similarities between former president Jacob Zuma and US president Donald Trump are uncanny. The two are enraged and live in fear of the multitude of criminal charges that lie in their future. To protect themselves, and for their own megalomanic reasons, they are prepared to bring down their countries’ institutions and put democracy in serious danger.

Trump has lost 31 of 33 court applications trying to overturn various election results that show he has fairly and squarely lost to Joe Biden. He is out of options, with an increasing number of his supporters beginning to speak of a future without him.

Yet despite all this, on Sunday he was still tweeting the lie, discredited again and again, that there was widespread fraud in the recent US election. “Why is Joe Biden so quickly forming a cabinet when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, enough to ‘flip’ at least four States, which in turn is more than enough to win the election?” he said on the social media platform.

Biden is ahead of Trump by at least six million popular votes. There is no way Trump can catch up. Biden remains ahead on the electoral college vote. On Saturday, a Pennsylvania judge dismissed a Trump attempt to overturn the election in that state, saying the president’s lawyers should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption”. Judge Matthew W Brann said Trump’s campaign had instead provided only “strained legal arguments, without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence”.

The US president’s intransigence has major consequences. His actions over the past three weeks have undermined American democracy worldwide. He has brought the country to a low, turned it into another banana republic where a president can just allege voter fraud and stay in office, which is what he is trying to do, despite overwhelming evidence that the election was freer, more secure and fairer than any in recent American history.

There will be laughter and chortling aplenty among many would-be dictators today. Who, after all, will now lecture them about free and fair elections when the US president can defy science and logic, and refuse to vacate the White House?

It is worth remembering that last week Trump fired Chris Krebs, the department of homeland security’s cyber chief who had presided over an elaborate election security effort guarding against foreign interference and fraud. Krebs was fired after his agency declared that the general election was the most secure in US history.

What we have here is a man who is waging a war on truth. In a world where hard men are using disinformation and misinformation to undermine the will of the people, Trump has firmly thrown in his lot with the anti-democratic types. For them there is no truth except what they say is truth. It endangers democracy not just in the US, but everywhere.

Jacob Zuma has been playing with the law for a decade, using every trick in the book to delay his day in court.
BUYING TIME Jacob Zuma has been playing with the law for a decade, using every trick in the book to delay his day in court.
Image: File photo

What is Zuma playing at? Last week, three years after he appointed the state capture commission and accepted the chief justice’s recommendation of judge Ray Zondo as the chair, he suddenly remembered he is “friends” with the man. Why didn’t he say so all along? Why didn’t he turn around to chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng then and flag the fact (or fiction) that he was close to Zondo?

It’s obvious. He is, as he has done for more than a decade, playing with the law to buy himself time. In the 2000s he used his lawyers to fight the system at every turn through his Stalingrad strategy of fighting every small detail and tying up the system in knots. Outside the courts he would claim he wanted to clear his name; inside court he would use every trick in the book to avoid that day in court. In fact, he invented some avoidance tricks along the way.

This latest refusal to testify in front of the Zondo commission is part of that old ploy. Zuma knows that if Zondo throws the book at him he has to be tried by a magistrate’s court for the charges of contempt. That will take a year.

So Zuma’s actions are not about being heard fairly by Zondo. They are about buying time for Ace Magashule and the radical economic transformation faction to get to the ANC’s national general council meeting next April. At that meeting they intend to push for a motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa, to unseat him from power and to install their own puppet in the Union Buildings. They want to recapture the state — and this time they will be even more wanton, more ruthless, than they were in the years 2007 to 2018.

They want to destroy the system we have built since 1994 for their own selfish ends.