By: Carl Niehaus
I am not a fan of Justice Malala’s shallow, and often factional, dribbles that he passes off for political analysis. That the Financial Mail – despite all its pretensions to be a serious financial magazine – keeps him on as a columnist, tells us much about how far this once highly regarded publication has drifted into the realm of being a White Monopoly Capital cheerleader. I suppose, it is just another confirmation that he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Malala thought it clever to dish up to the long suffering readers of his column, the hare-brain notion that President Jacob Zuma “had won” in succeeding to make “corruption un-punishable in SA” (See: https://www.businesslive.co.za/fm/opinion/2020-07-20-justice-malala-all-hail-jacob-zuma-in-the-war-on-corruption-the-man-from-nkandla-has-won/). In fact, in the excitement of this ‘insight’, that must have come to him either in a delusional dream, or imbued by one or another intoxicating substance, he claims that there was not only one, but actually two victories. Wow, just imagine two, hey!
So to Malala the reason why we are not seeing those politicians that he, and the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, do not like, in orange overalls, is because the NPA does not “have the skills to investigate very complex corruption matters”. Really? His claim that in this constitutional state of ours, with its highly regarded legal fraternity, we do not have the skills to investigate corruption matters, begs credulity.
On top of it Malala tries to make us believe this is all because the Scorpions were disbanded in 2008. He conveniently forgets to tell us how under President Thabo Mbeki his henchmen – then NPA Head, Bulelani Ngcuka, and Scorpions Head, Leonard McCarthy, – turned the Scorpions into a scandalous meddling political tool, in order to keep Mbeki in power. According to Malala these political factionalists were outstanding crime fighters … Well, as we say in my Afrikaans Mother-tongue: “Se Voet!”.
The reason that Malala advances why President Zuma, and his other pet hates, are not yet behind bars is because corruption had become ‘un-punishable’ in South Africa. Instead of a quest for justice the man, whom his parents so inappropriately name ‘Justice’, is hankering back to a time when the NPA and the Scorpions were a well-honed political weapon to settle factional political scores. The fact that this had been stopped in 2008 through a majority decision by ANC MP’s in parliament, is evidently anathema to him.
It does not pass his little factional mind that in a proper legal process, and in courts that operate according to our Constitution, the decision about whether to press charges against anyone should not be determined by a few clandestine phone calls, in order to determine when would be the most political damaging time to proceed (ala McCarthy in the run-up to President Zuma having been charged).
Nor does ‘Mr. Justice’ want to entertain the possibility that the reason why those whom he, and his spiritual Godfather Makgoba, want to see in orange overalls, are still dressed in nice civilian suits, is because the newspaper kangaroo-court stories that they have peddled, do not stand up to the scrutiny of a proper legal process. He ropes in the current Head of the NPA, Ms. Shamila Batohi, whose comments about an apparent skills shortage in the NPA is produced as a rationale for the frustration of his prosecution thirst.
I really hope that the manner in which he used Ms. Batohi’s comment does not reflect what she actually intended to say, because otherwise we are heading for another Bulelani-McCarthy disaster, which the legal system in our country can ill afford.
In order to justify his diatribe Malala pulls in another character, who is also all too blood-thirsty for prosecutions – one Professor Pierre de Vos. The ‘legal expert’, and poster boy of the now defunct ‘Save South Africa’ campaign. This Malala does in order to attack the constitutional maxim, that every citizen has the right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
Interestingly enough De Vos advanced the “common sense” argument that one cannot “suspend all your faculties”, and not make “any moral and political judgement about a man [President Jacob Zuma] whose friend [Schabir Shaik] had been sentenced to 15 years in prison” for corruption. De Vos did this, despite the fact Mr. Justice Hillary Squires – the judge whom sentenced Shaik – went out of his way and (eventually in exasperation) wrote an open letter to emphasize that he never said that there was “a mutually corrupt relationship” between President Zuma and Schabir Shaik, and that President Zuma cannot be deemed guilty on the basis of his guilty verdict of Shaik. However, all of this is like water off the proverbial duck’s back for Mr. Malala and his partisan law professor. They simply forged ahead with their flawed interpretation of the law, despite Judge Squires, having literally begged that this should not be done.
The same skepticism, about deeming certain persons innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, does not prevail when it concerns people with whom the likes of Malala, Makgoba and De Vos, are in apparent political agreement.
They are quick, as Malala does, to throw stones at Florence Radzilani, and Danny Msiza, against who there are allegations with regards to the VBS Mutual Bank matter. Despite the fact that neither Radzilani nor Msiza have been charged with any crime, Malala in the typical cavalier style of our mainstream media try to insist that they are none-the-less guilty of illegal conduct, and that they should have remained suspended, or even fired.
Interestingly enough when there are allegations against those with whom Malala is apparently politically in sync with, no such calls are made – then the “innocent until proven guilty” maxim is deemed perfectly acceptable.
The most recent example is the allegations that were published last Sunday in the Sunday Independent, of alleged irregularities in a Gauteng Provincial tender for personal protective equipment (PPE) against Ms. Khusela Diko (the Presidential Spokesperson), and her husband. Days later we have not heard a single call from Malala that Ms. Diko should step aside, until her name is cleared.
Please understand me correctly, I am not leveling any allegation against Ms. Diko, and her husband. I am just pointing out the glaring contradiction. I can use many other examples, such as the case of comrade Mike Mabuyakulu, the Deputy Chair of the ANC in Kwa-Zulu Natal, who had actually been charged in a court of law, and yet there is no campaign that he must step down from his leadership position in the ANC.
Really it is very simple: What must be true for the goose, must be true for the gander. For the arguments of Justice Malala to have any semblance of credibility, they must pass the test of evenhandedness and reciprocity. He fails dismally.
What is so unseemly on display here is not a quest for justice, but political partisanship, masquerading in cynical drag, as a so-called quest for justice.
For Justice Malala being the court jester in this farce is not unexpected, it is true to character. However, for the Financial Mail to provide him with the stage to perform his antics, is deadly for their credibility.
*Carl Niehaus is a veteran of the ANC. He is a former Ambassador to The Netherlands, and a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of MKMVA, and National Spokesperson of MKMVA.
He wrote this article in his personal capacity.