Rule of Law has many definitions; one of my favourites is that of the American Bar Association: “the rule of law is a set of principles, or ideals, for ensuring an orderly and just society. Many countries… strive to uphold the rule of law where no one is above the law, everyone is treated equally under the law, everyone is held accountable… there are clear and fair processes for enforcing the laws, there is an independent judiciary, and human rights are guaranteed to all.”
Why is it that some among us seek actively to destroy the rule of law?
Professor Saths Cooper, the often anti-white activist, referring to the Zuma matter, said the courts had not balanced the law with the national interest, something which was dangerous for stability. Given his background on Robben Island, one might have expected him to be a fervent upholder of the rule of law. But he believes threats of violence and insurrection should cancel out the law, the disgraceful Zuma attitude towards the courts and the judges, even those of the Constitutional Court, and rulings of that court. Perhaps the fact that he served as a vice president of AZAPO (which elected not a single MP at the last election) explains his attitude. He even called on acting-president Mabuza to “do the right thing and grant Zuma parole.” The ignorance and prejudice of the professor are mind-blowing.
Vuyo Zungula, the leader of the ATM, a political party that obtained 0.57% of the vote in the local government election, similarly, turned it into a race issue. The Whites apparently, approve of the “brutal and inhumane decision to drag Zuma back to prison.” He ignores the illegal conduct of Zuma, the illegal conduct of Arthur Fraser of Correctional Services and the suspicion that President Ramaphosa was tipped off before the illegal release of Zuma on trumped-up grounds and did nothing to stop it. Zungula also ignored the finding that Zuma’s health condition simply does not justify a release because he is terminally ill. He is not.
While one might understand the mental confusion, the racism and the ignorance of the rule of law of marginal figures like those quoted (and who received vastly disproportionate press coverage for their utterances) the same cannot be said of the ANC in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Almost unbelievably, the Provincial Executive of the ANC in KZN wants the National Executive Committee (NEC) to approve its joining the Zuma appeal process as a friend of the court.
Perhaps one can now understand why it was that the leadership of the ANC in Ethekwini and many in the provincial leadership, together with the SA Police and others in authority, stood back during the July looting. They do not support the rule of law unless it suits them to do so. They do not support it when it comes to Jacob Zuma. Even though he is a convicted person and despite the imminence of his corruption trial on very serious charges – now dragged out into its 20th year – none of that matters because he still has political clout with some voters who don’t seem to mind if their leaders are convicted or accused criminals.
Let’s see whether the NEC of the ANC gives them a short, sharp “No,” or whether a party and a government that has lost its way and its moral authority will again equivocate for political reasons.
[i] Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica.com
This opinion piece first appeared in my regular column in The Star.