The South African Federation of Trade Unions enthusiastically welcomes the long-overdue decision of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma on16 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering in connection with the controversial multimillion-rand arms deal scandal in the late 1990s.
At long last the tide has turned against a political leader who bankrupted the nation through his systematic looting of the country to enrich himself, his family and his cronies at the expense of the people, especially workers and the poor. While Zuma, the Guptas and Co amassed millions of rands, the poor faced soaring unemployment, deepening poverty and obscene level of inequality.
Zuma also corrupted public institutions – the NPA, SARS, the Hawks – whose constitutional rule should years ago have been enforcing the constitution and the law by prosecuting the corrupters, but who used their positions to do everything possible to protect the people they should have been arresting.
There was a deliberate effort to ensure that no such charges were ever brought. The very fact that the NPA can say today that “there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr. Zuma” on the corruption charges proves that there always was a case, since nothing has changed since 2009 when the charges were withdrawn – “unlawfully” and “irrationally” – according to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
This is an epic victory for the unions, social movements and ordinary citizens who have for years been demanding action against these criminals. They had to fight an African National Congress, its office bearers, NEC, Parliamentary Caucus, and its then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who all for years defeated every attempt to bring Zuma to justice and put a stop to the plundering of the country, and, with a few honorable exceptions, did not lift a finger to condemn the looters.
It was only the mass campaign from below, and the threat of the ANC losing power 2019 that finally forced the ANC and its current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to end their silence and opportunistically reinvent themselves as the crusaders against corruption. They have yet to explain their years of silence on the question.
Failure to answer this question reinforces the strongly held view that the crisis we are going through was not caused by one or two leaders but the entire ANC which either through silence or actively supporting Jacob Zuma ensured we reach this lowest point in our democracy where all institutions including organs of peoples power were hollowed out and domesticated.
It is important not to see this NPA decision to be the end of the campaign against corruption. It only refers to 16 of the 783 charges on the arms deal, and, although encouraging first steps have been taken by the Hawks and Assets Forfeiture Unit in the Free State, we still wait to see if Zuma and all his allies are going to be charged with all the other alleged crimes uncovered by the former Public Protector, the GuptaLeaks emails and Jacques Pauw’s ‘The State of Capture’.
In particular we demand that the NPA must prosecute not only public officials but also all those in the private sector who benefited from the arms deal and all the other cases. SAFTU remains convinced that corruption not only a crime by a limited number of individuals, but an inherent feature of monopoly capitalism, the very system, which has made the new president a multi-billionaire.
For SAFTU the biggest test for Ramaphosa is whether he is ready to tackle corruption, tax evasion, illicit transfer or funds into tax havens by corrupt global capitalist corporations.