Ralph Mathekga

2016 a spectacle of court cases

2016-12-12 08:32
President Jacob Zuma. (Netwerk24)

President Jacob Zuma. (Netwerk24)

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With 2016 nearly coming to an end it is clear to see that it has been a year dominated by political shenanigans including numerous court litigations over the behaviour of politicians.

An interesting trend is setting with regards to how the year comes to an end and how the mood for the next year gathers. The year 2016 began with a court hearing on the Nkandla matter and the Constitutional Court told President Jacob Zuma to behave and pay back the money for Nkandla.

That was in February, but it feels like years ago because there were just too many court cases over poor judgment of politicians in this country. As the curtains on 2016 are about to be drawn, our politicians are ending the year on yet another “we will see you in court” note. Gone are the days when politicians ended a year on “have a merry Christmas!”

Just like it was the case with 2016 (which began with court action and was fraught with court cases throughout the year), the mood for 2017 has already been set for when Zuma will be challenging the state capture report in court. One of my colleagues writing in this space has already said that those frivolous court actions are taking up too much space in our justice system, making it difficult for our courts to address matters of social justice. Indeed I agree that our justice system seems to be abused by those with no intention to serve the vulnerable in our society. South African politicians are becoming excessively litigious and lawyers are smiling all the way to the bank.

There will be no Christmas rest for our politicians; they will be preparing for cases coming next year, particularly the state capture court matter and the case involving whether Zuma should be tried on corruption charges. The Zuma corruption matter has a long history and the DA has successfully kept this case alive since he became president.

While most of us will be enjoying some jelly and custard over December holidays – and please let us share with those who are less fortunate – our politicians will be multitasking with a bowl of custard in one hand and paging through Sun Tzu’s Art of War with the other. The opposition parties hope to bury Zuma by opposing his attempt to bury the state capture report.

There will also most likely be more court challenges in 2017 regarding Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s rampage at the SABC, aka national broadcaster or national shame.

Motsoeneng has been hauled to court more times than I have been to church this year, shame on me! The self anointed patron saint of sunshine journalism, Motsoeneng has refused to listen to Parliament or anyone who dare suggest he should stop impersonating a senior manager at SABC, turning the broadcaster into a newsmaker instead of news reporter. 

While there were many court challenges involving government in 2016, they only managed to win one. This was the case in which Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation wanted to challenge the appointment of Shaun Abrahams as head of the National Prosecuting Authority. The court decided to strike the matter off the roll, saying Zuma’s decision to appoint Abrahams was not irrational.

Yes, only once this year did the court say that the president was not irrational. I think the court is just tired of having to keep on saying the president is irrational, so they just decided to give him a break this one time.

Other than this case, government has been losing cases throughout the year. I suggest it hires the mightiest spinner of them all: Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Kompela. Kompela recently gained prominence for insisting the reason for Kaizer Chiefs’ losing streak was because the players were “sabotaging” him. There aren’t many local football coaches who can spell the word sabotage, and the talented Kompela is just too good a spinner for football. The man needs to be shown direction to where he is needed most: Luthuli House.

If anyone is interested in drawing a political picture for 2017, the reality is that it will be similar to 2016. Next year’s court fixture in South Africa looks much more interesting that the English Premiership fixture. The main difference between the football fixture and our court fixture is that the results of the court fixture are real and tragic, while football remains essentially entertainment.  

* Ralph Mathekga is an independent political analyst and author of the book When Zuma Goes. He writes a weekly column for News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  nkandla  |  court
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