The Running Commentary

If ever you needed a reason to vote!!

question markBelow an excerpt from article I picked up via my news reader this weekend.  The article is fairly lengthy and I may be accused of editing to suit my point of view, but I am posting it never-the-less. 

Senior ANC leaders are preparing to push strongly for a law that prohibits criminal charges against a sitting state president in a last-ditch effort to bolster Jacob Zuma’s drive to become South Africa’s president.

This appears to be the dominant strategy after indications that a proposed blanket amnesty for corruption in the arms deal would be fraught with difficulties, as it would entail admissions of wrongdoing Zuma is unwilling to make.

There is also a grudging admission that the strategy of scrapping the Scorpions and putting pressure on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has not worked.

Zuma supporters are increasingly reconciling themselves to the idea that Zuma will be tried at some stage.

Several sources close to Zuma pointed out that even if an amnesty is granted, it might not help Zuma, who faces myriad other charges unrelated to the arms procurement.

An NEC member, also a senior parliamentarian, told the Mail & Guardian that ANC leaders had yet to study the report they commissioned on the arms deal. He said that the exact amnesty mechanism, and determining who would receive it, might be too cumbersome and complex to resolve.

Zuma supporters are pinning their hopes on the battery of legal challenges and possible appeals he may still bring, which could prevent any trial taking place by the time of national elections in April or May.

However, it will not be plain sailing for those who favour legislation to outlaw prosecutions of a sitting president. Other NEC members are concerned about the ANC being seen to abuse its majority to change the law or the Constitution.

“We are very careful in the ANC not to be seen as another African country that changes laws just to suit us. We can’t focus only on the short term; we must look at what this would mean for the future,” said an NEC member who is also a senior government official.
“So far we have resisted using our two-thirds majority to change laws which do not suit us or are uncomfortable for us. Even the NEC is split — there are people who say the legal process must be followed — and we must allow the law to take its course. Others say that this is a political problem that needs a political solution.

Another source concurred: “The NEC is not united around what route to take because of the different perspectives people have.”

I have highlighted the section that concerns me most. Currently as it stands the ANC has a two-thirds majority and therefore can “push through” legislation to suit their cause. Clearly there is a point of view, and the way I read it they are split but we are not being told which grouping holds the upper hand, that they require a “political solution” to the ZUMA issue. If their suggestion came into force it would make South Africa the laughing stock. We are supposed to model the new Africa that is possible in terms of politics.

If we push through legislation in the form of protecting a sitting leader, then we are effectively creating another Zimbabwe. The courts are there to legislate, you only feel threatened if you have something to hide, you would only appeal if you have something to hide, you would only make threats like “I will bring them all down” if you have something to hide.

We as South Africans need a democracy that truly works for the whole populace. In order to do this we need effective opposition politics. We need to mobilise the opposition parties to stop their own in fighting, create a focus on bringing more voters into the opposition ranks and ensure that we do not have a situation where the ruling party can make whatever decisions they feel they want.

The eyes of the world are increasingly on us, and we need to be setting the example as leaders on the African continent.

africaANCcourtsNECoppositionpoliticsruling partySouth AfricaZimbabweZuma

Mike • August 11, 2008

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