Zuma exposed in full view of the Constitution

Opinion Piece by Lelouch Giard

Zuma exposed in full view of the Constitution
Zuma going nowhere and will be president of SA until 2019

Zuma is, once again and to no one’s surprise, opposing court proceedings that might see the consequences of his actions catch up to him at last – this time the UDM brought a case to the Constitutional Court in an attempt to force a secret ballot for the upcoming vote of no confidence in the president. The UDM (and much of the public) hopes that a secret ballot would allow ANC MPs to vote according to their consciences and the will of the constituencies they are supposed to represent, instead of being forced to vote as ordered by Gwede Mantashe on pain of summary dismissal and political career death.

In a move reminiscent of a schoolchild arguing by passing messages, Zuma made use of his affidavit submission to the ConCourt to lash out at his critics and detractors. Much like other top ANC officials, it seems that Zuma is ready to admit that internal party structures and other normal means of handling conflicts have broken down under his administration, and that the courts and the media are two of a dwindling set of functional structures for attempting to work out conflicts and issues.

Our Most Hated President (a term I am comfortable using after Zuma’s birthday saw tens of thousands of South Africans around Pretoria alone make time in their lives to march in protest of his continued occupation of his position) is joined in his attempt at blocking the secret ballot by Speaker Mbete, his loyal minion. One wonders whether the objection is ideological (unlikely, given Zuma’s selective interest in ideology and principles) or motivated by a practical fear that the wrath of hundreds of thousands of South Africans might convince ANC MPs to vote out Zuma – if their livelihoods are not held ransom by the dominant Zuma-loyal faction in the ANC?

Among other claims, Zuma alleges that a secret ballot would somehow be opposed to the openness and honesty expected of the dealings of Parliament (unlike his own total lack of openness and explanation with regard to the Cabinet Reshuffle). It is a little difficult to see how allowing MPs to vote without fear of consequence is against the principles of Parliament, when those very Members are elected as a result of a secret ballot (like Zuma, himself, was)? The results would still be openly declared, and one would hope the conduct of the MPs – elected to public office – would not somehow be less honest if their individual votes are not known. Of course, Zuma disagrees, which suggests that he has doubts about his own party’s MPs.

A second angle that Zuma tries for in his affidavit is that a secret ballot would not be compliant with Constitutional principles: firstly, this is a study in intense irony considering Zuma’s own violation of the Constitution; secondly, it is unclear how it would not be compliant, as the Constitution does not forbid or explicitly provide for a secret ballot in Parliament – however, as the MPs are theoretically an extension of our votes as citizens, and we vote by secret ballot, why would they not be able to vote by secret ballot as our representatives? Secret ballots determine the end result either way.

The third concern that Zuma would like to air in our highest court is that a secret ballot would contravene the constitution of the ANC. Point one: wholly and entirely irrelevant matter – could the DA change their own constitution to make a secret ballot mandatory? The Constitutional Court and the Parliament should not care a whit what the ANC constitution says, as it is wholly irrelevant for any matter that is not internal to the party (and this is a matter that includes, but is not exclusive to, the party). Point two: if a secret ballot could arguably be said to be compliant with our national Constitution (see previous paragraph), would the ANC constitution not, then, be unconstitutional due to it trying to limit freedoms and protections that the national Constitution does not?

While we are on the topic of the ANC constitution, and how it makes obedience mandatory for party MPs, why does it mandate loyalty to the party above the nation? That is, in essence, part of Zuma’s argument: that ANC loyalty to party should go above and beyond loyalty to South Africa. In my opinion, we are already seeing the decay that this poisonous attitude is causing in our nation, and this idea that the ANC is greater than South Africa as a nation is culpable high treason.

South Africa is (at least nominally) a constitutional democracy based on the principles of proportional representation. How ironic, then, that ANC-style bloc politics (forcing all MPs from a party to vote ‘the party line’) attempts to regress us to a simple majoritarian might-makes-right situation. The ANC want their say to be the first and last say, at least for the next two years while their corrupt idol steals our Treasury blind and they retain their majority. Not to mention that our Constitutional Guardian (Zuma) has violated the Constitution and the ‘representative’ ANC government are shrugging off the voices of the masses of citizens they are supposed to represent as defined by democracy. Each facet of our proportional-representation constitutional democracy is under siege by the ANC – again, I argue high treason is afoot.

The very essence and concept of a representative democracy is that the power remains firmly in the hands of the people (the term democracy equates roughly to “people power” when translated directly), with that public power wielded by elected representatives who are supposed to act according to the will of the constituencies/parts of the population. Technically, the ANC has a comfortable majority in Parliament. Practically, as seen in the local elections more recently, the ANC has clearly started to fall out of favour with the public, as their overall voting percentage dropped harshly. Recent protests have made it even clearer that Jacob Zuma’s destructive and selfish path is not the will of the South African public – yet the ANC is content to ignore the public in defiance of the very concept of representative leadership.

Zuma’s affidavit points out that his actions as President of the ANC are a political matter (true, and utterly irrelevant) and that his actions as the president of South Africa require compliance with the Constitution and law – which his actions have not: he has violated the Constitution and delayed an inevitable fraud conviction by abusing his position. In a very real sense, Zuma points out his own unsuitability for his position and makes a stronger case for a secret ballot and a successful no confidence vote.

Another point that our dishonoured president raises is that public office requires the exercise of public power to be within Constitutional constraints – implicitly, legally and fundamentally. The irony is, again, that his own failure to adhere to the very principles he espouses there is why a motion of no confidence is to be tabled in Parliament. Additionally, Zuma is far from the only example of how his administration has failed this portion of their responsibilities time and again. Remember the defense minister who smuggled a foreigner into the country illegally? Remember the Nkandla “fire pool” embarrassment? Minister Dlamini being accused of lying to the Constitutional Court by Sassa? Mentioning even all the examples I recall at the moment would constitute an entire article’s worth of text. And don’t get me started on Zuma’s ex being granted presidential protection, without even being an MP.

Not content with pointing out exactly why a secret ballot is all but imperative to maintain the integrity of the office of president – by removing the current unsuitable candidate who is doing great damage to the credibility of said office – Zuma then addresses the matter of rationality, which he argues is the least of all Constitutional values. How it could be said to even be a simple Constitutional value – not to mention the least of them – boggles the mind: how could one even hope to apply Constitutional values if one is not thinking rationally? Rational thinking is a basic requirement to be a functional, sane human being. To suggest that it is somehow lesser, as if it is almost optional, illustrates the messy divorce between Zuma and common sense.

Having attempted to shuffle rationality off to a minor position at the bottom of the list of Constitutional values, Jacob Zuma then tries to grab hold of a discounted supply (a sort of price-manipulation that has been similarly illustrated with the Rand, twice, by Zuma). According to our remarkably well-paid president, the Cabinet Reshuffle was rational. Rational. Despite predictably costing our nation billions of Rand, an investment rating downgrade from two (soon to be three) of the three major agencies, and possibly our last chance at seeing positive growth in our economy this year.

Just about anyone and everyone I spoke to about politics in the weeks and months leading up to the Reshuffle correctly predicted an eventual change-up in Cabinet – particularly the axing of Gordhan – with great certainty. Analysts, experts, concerned citizens… they all wrote open letters, articles, warnings and predictions. Most of them were accurate about the axing, the downgrade following that, the effect on the Rand. Most were probably right about the corrupt motive, too. Even several top ANC officials objected. No, Zuma, there was nothing rational about ignoring all that. Not if you pretend our president cares about SA. It all gets really rational if he were, say, joined to the Guptas at the hip in a corrupt relationship of unspeakable proportions.

Zuma further argues that the threats and intimidation the UCM refers to is spurious, fictional. Perhaps he missed the angry, threatening declaration by Gwede Mantashe that ANC MPs would never vote with the opposition (which is also an incredibly unconstitutional statement), complete with a heavy implied “or else…”. Perhaps Zuma also forgets that, in that same affidavit, he points out that it is within the ANC’s mandate to “punish or remove those who voted against directives”, which is a statement worryingly reminiscent of the Apartheid regime or a typical dictatorship. Threats indeed – and that is just internal to the party. Again, is this attitude really what Mandela intended for our so-called “liberators” (a title which they share with many, many others)?

Our own tax-grabbing Gupta-loving uBaba (J.G. Zuma to those less eager to have him as their “chief”) additionally referred to his “[C]onstitutionally mandated rights”. Funny how the Constitution is sacrosanct and omnipotent when it suits his agenda, and yet can be violated with naught but an “Oops, sorry comrades” when it gets in the way of Zuma’s private, Gupta-brand gravy train. Funny how Zuma loves talking about his Constitutional rights, occasionally criticizes the Constitution, but never, ever, mentions his Constitutional responsibilities; the ones he has consistently failed. Funny guy – no wonder he laughs so often.

The two ratings agencies who have already downgraded us (avoiding the third downgrade would likely require Zuma to vacate his seat even before the no confidence vote happens, at least) listed the Cabinet Reshuffle explicitly as a major reason why they downgraded South Africa’s investment status. The Reshuffle – as others in the ANC top six pointed out – was directly Zuma’s fault. Premeditated, or dictated to him by his masters.

Additionally, Zuma has had a very similar experience with the surprise axing of Minister Nene, so he knew what the consequences of his actions would likely be, even if he neglected to speak to any analysts, experts, or his supposed colleagues. Plenty of analysts made quite accurate predictions about the consequences of the Reshuffle on public platforms. There can be only two explanations: Zuma is mentally deficient to the point where he should be institutionalized – or he does not care about the consequences of his actions, about the cost to the poor of our nation, in particular.

Zuma alleges that the legality of the Reshuffle is not the reason for the downgrade. Correct. The problem is not the technical legality – it is the questionable ethics, inappropriate recklessness, ulterior motives, instability and unpredictability, and lack of rational thinking. All excellent motives for a downgrade, and the situation is not helped any by the president’s typical disdain for explaining his bizarre behavior.

Eager to shift the blame, our King of Corruption claims that the downgrades are based on a “misconception”, that the ratings agencies are the ones at fault somehow. A “misconception” that the Reshuffle would lead to policy change (PS, how do they plan “radical economic transformation” (one of Zuma’s favourite lines) without policy change?). Sadly, that “misconception” is the only rational conclusion to which a sane observer can come: Gigaba has made confusing statements; lied brazenly to the public in a move that only makes sense as an attempt at unethical market manipulation; made vague statements about “radical economic transformation”; and implied a total reverse-course on the Nuclear Deal.

The buzzphrase of which Gigaba and Zuma both so eagerly partake – “radical economic transformation” – was allegedly designed by Bell Pottinger for Zuma at the behest of the Gupta family, who employed the UK-based PR firm via their infamous Oakbay. It does seem carefully designed to sound impressive, with many syllables, without actually conveying anything. The ANC government and officials seem all but allergic to actually explaining anything about what it actually is, which makes uncertainty about policy an inevitability when “radical economic transformation” (which, taken literally, means “big change in economic policy”) gets involved.

Since Zuma is particularly fond of “alternative facts”, he shares another in his affidavit: that the downgrade is supposedly not based on facts. Setting aside the absurdity of Zuma claiming to know the internal workings of the ratings agencies, the previous two paragraphs have discussed how policy uncertainty is not only a sensible reaction to the Reshuffle, but in fact the only rational reaction. That is sufficient fact, so I will not drone on about the various other relevant facts. Nor will I devote much time to why appearance and opinion are as important as fact in the world of finance (statistical and historical opinion/prediction is exactly what a credit rating is, which is very similar to an investment rating).

In a classic ANC conflation of wholly separate things, Zuma claims that the uncertainty about economic policy change is based on “a misconception of what the Constitution prescribes”. The relevance of Constitutional prescriptions to policy change is left unexplained – the Constitution certainly does not forbid a new Finance Minister changing the existing economic policy.

According to Zuma, the possibility of a shift resulting from the Reshuffle is not founded on fact. I have no desire to sound like a broken record, so if you want an explanation of why this statement by our rogue president is not rational, scroll up and reread the second half of this article. I doubt you will find a lack of factual reasons for the expectation of policy change. Perhaps, if Zuma actually means what he is saying about economic policy, he and his new Finance Minister would be willing to put their signatures on a declaration of some sort that economic policy will not change until 2019 – including the total rejection of a Nuclear Deal?

In one affidavit to the Constitutional Court – a formal document that is supposed to be a statement of fact, sent to the highest court of the country – Jacob Zuma, our supposed president and Constitutional Guardian, unintentionally lays out a good case for why he should be removed from office; makes irrational and patently false claims; attempts to shift blame for the disastrous consequences of his actions to respected international agencies; and attempts the defend the indefensible. If the Constitutional Court rules in favour of Zuma, it will partially validate his deplorable affidavit. Let us hope that does not happen.

Fellow South Africans, our nation will not survive another two years of Zupta looting. A Zuma-faction successor president (like Dlamini-Zuma or Mbete) would be as bad, if not worse. It is time to stand up, to be heard, to fight the good fight. Jacob Zuma and his spreading network of corruption is a cancer in our nation, and we need to keep fighting until the last of it is removed and every crony brought to justice. If we stop early, if we hesitate, it will grow back.

We are having trouble surviving the first wave. If we leave this untreated, if we relapse, we will become a failed state. The next Zimbabwe. Help stop this. Zuma MUST fall, and his cronies too.

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