New evidence

2009-03-21 00:00

The “fresh evidence” that has caused the National Prosecuting Authority to review the corruption charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma has now been made public. In essence, this is evidence, firstly, that former president Thabo Mbeki was himself implicated in improper conduct relating to the arms deal, and, secondly, that Mbeki directly influenced the Scorpions in commissioning the controversial “Browse Mole Report” which claimed that Zuma was being financed by Libya and Angola to oust Mbeki.

There are reasons to believe that both allegations against Mbeki have substance. Acting director of prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe now bears an awesome burden. If the NPA pursues the prosecution of Zuma, the legally correct procedure would be to charge Mbeki also. The nation would then face a situation in which its sitting president and its former president would be on trial on charges of corruption. The effect on the country and its international standing could be shattering, and a powerful reason to drop the charges.

Yet dropping the charges would be no less damaging. The law would have been suspended in order to save the nation’s leaders from political embarrassment. Can political heavyweights then break the law with impunity? Confidence in South Africa and its future would be destroyed. A bewildered nation can only wonder how it has happened that so many powerful people have become embroiled in such dubious dealings. The actions themselves, if proved true, and the intrigue that they have spawned, have, whichever way one looks at it, brought the country to a precipice from which it is difficult to see where the safe ground may lie.

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