POLITICS
14/12/2017 06:22 SAST | Updated 14/12/2017 06:57 SAST

Jacob Zuma Is The ANC's Dirty Little Pleasure

Another court has climbed into President Jacob Zuma and questioned his conduct. But it's not as if the ANC doesn't know this.

Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, November 2, 2017.

ANALYSIS

30 March 2016

"The president thus failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. This failure is manifest from the substantial disregard for the remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector in terms of her constitutional powers." – Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Nkandla judgment.

8 December 2017

"Beginning with the president, there are the following considerations. First, there is the broader pattern of the president's conduct in litigation, of defending what ultimately turns out, on the president's own concession, to have been the indefensible all along, banking on the advantage that the passage of time may bring. This pattern has played out in well-publicised cases in courts, and would be naive to ignore. We refer here particularly to the Nkandla case and the spy tapes case." – Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo in the Nxasana judgement.

13 December 2017

"Additionally, the statement by the president in the media and in parliament... points to the reckless misconception underpinning the president's application seeking to review and set aside the remedial action. The review application was a clear nonstarter and the president was seriously reckless in pursuing it as he has done. His conduct falls far short of the high standard expressed in section 195 of the Constitution." – Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo in the 'State of Capture' review judgment.

***

Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo gave President Jacob Zuma an almighty smack on Wednesday in the North Gauteng High Court where he delivered (on behalf of a full bench) a scathing assessment of Zuma's cynical and manipulative approach to justice, governance and compliance.

The court was brutally honest in exposing the dishonest way in which Zuma uses the judicial system, with all its avenues for recourse and review, to postpone and delay justice.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela speaks at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa May 10,2016. Picture taken May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector who was in the public gallery on Wednesday when judgment was delivered, can personally attest to how Zuma blocks and blocks: she conducted a four-hour interview with him in October 2016, coming away none the wiser. She later reported: "I met with the president to solicit his response to the above allegations. He did not respond to any of my questions."

The court saw through Zuma's ploys to make public statements in committing to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry -- as Madonsela instructed him to -- but then stalling and denying. Zuma was schooled (not that he doesn't exactly understand our constitutional architecture) about the gravity of comments made in Parliament, with Mlambo admonishing that his statements in the National Assembly aren't "ordinary statements" and that they're made before the country's legislative body.

The courts are clear about Zuma's character. He doesn't respect the Contstitution and his conduct is not consistent with what South Africans deserve and expect from the head of state.

Zuma believes he isn't bound by words, he needn't be held to what he says. In the aborted interview with Madonsela she tried to get the president to talk to her, but he explained that he needed to consider his answers because he needed to be more careful when talking to her because "if I give an answer to a friend or to a journalist I can phrase it any way, saying exactly the same thing..."

He did the same in the Nkandla issue: denying that anything was wrong, committing to pay back money if he really must but then ignoring the Public Protector's findings until he was forced to do so.

Zuma's two biggest scandals have been Nkandla and state capture and, in both instances, he fought tooth and nail to challenge the Public Protector's powers. The courts have been abundantly clear exactly what those were and in the last two judgments (Nxasana and state of capture), they have also made it clear that the president is conflicted, cannot be trusted and that certain responsibilities needed to be delegated to other bodies and offices.

AFP/Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma's homestead of Nkandla in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

The courts are clear about Zuma's character. He doesn't respect the Contstitution and his conduct is not consistent with what South Africans deserve and expect from the head of state.

But Zuma is still there. He has been supported and his hand strengthened by the ANC over the last 24 months, during which he has subjugated the party and country like no other leader has done since 1994.

The courts were scathing about Zuma, and the court of public opinion is gearing up to be even more scathing of the ANC's conduct when the next general election is held in roughly 17 months' time. Pravin Gordhan, the fired former minister of finance, told Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday night the ANC faced "dismal prospects" ahead of that election.

The ANC in 2007 knew who it elected as its leader. The courts and his own conduct over the last two years confirmed it. During that time he fired two finance ministers to enable capture, he twice challenged the Public Protector (losing both times) and led the ANC to its worst showing in any election ever.

What did the ANC do? Not a hell of a lot. He seems to be the party's dirty little pleasure.