Former President Jacob Zuma is refusing to abide by the ruling of the highest court in the land to appear before and answer questions at the Zondo Commission into ‘State Capture’, an initiative that he was party to establishing. The former President insists that he be treated differently from other South Africans. He wants to set a precedence that will reduce our country into a banana republic if allowed. He did not contest the Zondo Commission turning to the Constitutional Court when fully aware of the consequences of a finding that may be adverse against himself. After the Constitutional Court has made a ruling which he did not contest, he has the audacity to tell all en sundry what should have been done. SAFTU calls on the former President not to exaggerate his importance. The political reality is that he has eroded the support he once enjoyed. Very few will follow him in his chosen route of a deliberate ploy to plunge this beautiful country into mayhem to save his skin.
SAFTU calls on the former President to do the right thing, which is to appear at the Zondo Commission to answer allegations that have been levelled against him by many witnesses.
After protesting his complete innocence for years against all charges of wrongdoing and demanding an opportunity to clear his name in court, he once again hides in the bunker of lame excuses and innuendo when presented with an opportunity to do so.
All South Africans are now familiar with the infamous ‘Stalingrad’ strategy used by former President Zuma for avoiding responsibility for anything. He also repeatedly claims to be the target of reactionary forces, both national and international, hell-bent on punishing him because he dared to suggest the need for radical economic reforms. As usual, these faceless and reactionary forces are never named or identified, and evidence of radical policies is non-existent on the ground.
From Stalingrad to the Estina Dairy Farm and Back Again
At the same time, ever more baseless excuses are deployed by the former President to scupper the Zondo Commission’s proceedings, including a demand the Judge must recuse himself because he is a close personal associate of the former President who has turned against him. Despite a wholly unambiguous and water-tight rebuttal of this association in open court by Judge Zondo, the former President once more defaults to his now-infamous avoidance strategy comprising conspiracies, excuses, deferrals, avoidance and sheer unadulterated denialism. Only poor souls like the hapless and overzealous Carl Niehaus remain convinced.
Adding insult to injury Zuma has gone so far as to say his treatment is comparable to that meted out by Botha’s apartheid state to Comrade Robert Sobukwe, (who must be spinning in his grave at such an inappropriate comparison). What an insult to all of our freedom fighters, and especially to the Sobukwe family and all those who were incarcerated by the apartheid regime.
The Reality and the Rhetoric
This begs a range of questions. Where is the evidence of the much-touted radical economic policies that the former President was at pains to implement? The President was in charge of the country for nearly ten years. Where is evidence that he advanced radial transformation when he was given a rare honour to lead this nation?
The working class know very well that during his tenure, just like in a period before he was placed in charge, neoliberalism continued, austerity and privatisation was the order of the day. To crown this period, he increased the VAT by 1% from 14 to 15%.
He did not reverse the decrease of corporate taxes; he did not introduce wealth or solidarity tax, he did not return the stolen land, he did not stop illicit cash outflows, he did not stop a myriad of the tax-dodging scheme, he did not reintroduce exchange controls, he did not nationalise any mine, bank or even the reserve bank, he did not ensure that the wealth of the country is shared.
Instead, he left a trail of absolute destruction of collapsing state-owned enterprises today are retrenching workers left right and center.
The truth is written on the poor’s faces and the life chances of their children and the miserable pay slips of the working poor. It is evident through the millions that live in squalor, without even the most basic services or protection, before Covid19 created havoc.
Faction Before People
And right on cue, if evidence was needed of the deepening and unresolved factionalised state of affairs within the ruling party, the Secretary-General of the ANC, jumps to attention to provide it.
ANC Secretary-General Magashule, who is himself facing serious a mountain of allegations of corruption in court, declares to all South Africans that there is nothing wrong in the Former President refusing to testify at the Zondo Commission despite the ruling of the Constitutional Court that he must.
In other words, it is OK for a former Head of State, who was elected to serve and protect the country’s Constitution and promote respect for its institutions and laws, to simply ignore them when it is in his interests to do so, and claim there is a plot to discredit his revolutionary credentials. This is classic Zuma ducking and diving and claiming super victim status.
No Illusions But Give No Quarter to the Corrupt
As a genuinely radical part of the trade union movement, we have no illusions about the capitalist state’s willingness or capacity to protect the historic interests of the working class and the poor. However, we solemnly believe that if even the current minimal checks and balances intended to contain corruption and expose maladministration are not adhered to, this will be a green light for all those who are scrambling to avoid accountability for their actions, including Magashule.
If these two partners in factionalism are allowed to escape public scrutiny and possible wrongdoing, it will herald a new era in our descent towards a kleptocracy, where the resources of our people are squandered and stolen for private selfish accumulation. This could serve as a very dangerous precedent, indeed. For this reason, we insist that like every other citizen, both former President Zuma, and Secretary-General Ace Magashule must bear the consequences of their actions. They must have their day in court whether they want it or not. They must answer to the people they have denied and consigned to mass impoverishment.
Towards a Society of Equals and Real Socialist Democracy
In the type of socialist society that we advocate, those who have stolen from the people will be held to account, whoever they are, because our people’s needs will be placed before the narrow and selfish interests of private individuals and capital.
Furthermore, there will be a thorough investigation into how the South Africa state has been used and abused for decades to exploit and oppress our people. Tax avoidance by the rich, their offshore banking and illicit capital transfers will be exposed for what they are, a continuing attempt to maximize their profits at the expense of the poor and working class.
The COVID19 crisis has laid bare the fault-lines of our society. Now more than ever, we need practical people-based and sustainable solutions to the challenges we face. South Africa is not a poor country, yet everywhere its people are barely surviving. On the 24th February, we will be embarking on a General Strike, and these demands will be in the forefront.