Booby traps everywhere as Cyril tries to make a clean breast of it
Powerful people who stop at nothing are coming after Shamila Batohi and the National Prosecuting Authority
We have a new president, a new legislature and a new executive. The future is hopeful, but many uncertainties remain. There are many icebergs as Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” begins its five-year term.
Among the biggest immediate challenges (but by no means the most pressing or worrisome) is cleaning up the state from the rot of the past 10 years and sending those responsible to jail. That means the person and institution most in danger right now are Shamila Batohi and the National Prosecuting Authority (and the new investigative unit within that body). Why are they in danger? Some of the most powerful people in our state over the past 10 years are coming for them.
Think about it.
If ever there was a phrase made for a politician who is guilty in SA it is this: “The charges against me are politically motivated.”
Every scoundrel who has a case to answer rushes for this convenient scapegoat. They don’t say: “I am not guilty”. They do not say: “I did not steal.”
Instead, like a broken record, they all say again and again: “The charges against me are politically motivated.”
The man who invented this hoary old saying and mastered the art of mouthing it at every possible point, Jacob Zuma, was before court in Pietermaritzburg last week. He was not there to answer the allegations against him, mind you, but to try to dodge the day when he would have to take the stand and answer probing questions about why he was taking money from international arms companies and his friend Schabir Shaik.
For a man who is innocent, he has done a spectacular job of ensuring that he does not get a chance to not clear his name. Shaik was sent to jail back in 2005. Since then Zuma has fought and won political battles in the ANC to ensure he doesn’t go to jail. He got rid of Thabo Mbeki. He roped Julius Malema, Blade Nzimande and Kgalema Motlanthe into his nefarious games. He got the entire ANC to disband the Scorpions. He managed to postpone his date with justice for 15 years. Yet the noose is tightening.
It is also tightening around the necks of so many of his accomplices in the state capture project. Take the mayor of eThekwini, another Zuma acolyte. She holds the distinction of getting Zuma to tweet that he hopes that the charges against her are not politically motivated. He does not ask her if she is guilty. He says nothing about the mountain of evidence that is in the public domain about her complicity. He doesn’t say: “Let the law take its course.”
Which is why the little-reported press conference by the National Prosecuting Authority last week is so important and has so many shaking with fear. In 2008 Zuma and his ANC ruthlessly disbanded the Scorpions. Now, in both the revived Hawks unit and the new investigative unit in the NPA, it lives again.The leaders of this key institution say they will pursue the perpetrators of crimes big and small; that none will be spared. It is all very refreshing.Yet we must all know that these men and women are going to face an unprecedented assault on their integrity, their actions and their personal lives. It is a trend that’s happening in other jurisdictions across the globe where attempts are being made to shut down crime fighters.Take the fate of a similar unit in Guatemala. In that country an investigative and prosecutorial panel known as Cicig (the Spanish acronym for International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala) has put hundreds of politicians, civil servants and business people in jail for corruption. It has been hailed as a major success.The country’s new president campaigned for the strengthening of the panel. Then it charged some members of his own family for corruption and now he has joined the old, corrupt elite in wanting it shut down.
So don’t be fooled. The Zuma-Magashule nexus in the ANC is now laying booby traps not just for their leader, Ramaphosa, but for the NPA and other institutions which Ramaphosa – to his great credit – has been cleaning up.
These characters will use whatever leverage they have in the ANC and at its head office, Luthuli House, to ensure that Batohi and her team do not achieve their goals. Remember that back in December 2007 these people took a resolution to destroy the Scorpions simply to ensure Zuma didn’t have his day in court. They removed a president, Thabo Mbeki, for the same reason.
They will stop at nothing to do the same thing again.