Glib analysis doesn't hold water

2008-05-05 00:00

In his column, William Saunderson-Meyer argues that Jacob Zuma has perfected the art of evasion and obfuscation (The Witness and Weekend Argus, April 26). He rightly points out that Zuma has consistently called for his day in court and has done everything in his power to avoid it.

However, his analysis collapses in its attempt to draw a comparison between Zuma’s approach to his corruption trial and the points that I have made about the Erasmus Commission.

Firstly, Zuma faces a corruption charge in a court of law, based on a thorough criminal investigation undertaken by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after there was found to be a strong prima facie case against him. He is doing his best to ensure that documentary evidence, that is known to exist, is prevented from being used against him. This is legitimately called a “cover up”.

In contrast, the police’s exhaustive investigation into the so-called “Spygate” affair has produced nothing against the city, the Democratic Alliance or myself. We have made everything available to each investigation, to the last invoice. We have withheld nothing that is relevant to the investigation. Apart from the police probe, I asked Advocate Josie Jordaan, SC, to investigate the matter independently because I wanted to know whether anything could possibly have gone wrong in the process that required acknowledgement and correction. His conclusion was a confirmation that there is no spying “scandal” at all.

The city conducted a legally mandated investigation into Badih Chaaban. The city did not pay an account that should have been paid by the DA. All procedures had been complied with and no wrongdoing had occurred. If the police have contrary evidence, let them produce it. The city, the DA and I will gladly answer any case in a court of law. However, we will not sit back and allow the ANC to bypass the judicial process by setting up a political hit squad, with a façade of credibility because it is chaired by a judge, to run a smear campaign of innuendo without any basis in the facts.

It is obvious to any serious observer of Western Cape

politics that the purpose of the Erasmus Commission is to give a platform to the ANC and its allies (primarily comprising

people with an axe to grind) to distort the truth and create a false impression of wrongdoing. These lies and distortions will be reported on every day as if they are fact.

By the time that the Erasmus Commission issues its “opinion” (from which there is no appeal), the smear will have been established in the run-up to the 2009 election. This is what the ANC wants to achieve. It has nothing to do with getting to the truth. In a democracy the truth is established through a proper judicial process, starting with the police, through the prosecutorial authority and into the courts.

Secondly, it is disingenuous to draw a comparison between my comments about Nathan

Erasmus and the ANC’s labelling of Judge Hilary Squires as an “old Rhodesia, apartheid-era judge”.

The ANC’s attack on Squires undermined the judiciary because it was an ad hominem attack on the integrity of a judge presiding over a court of law.

Erasmus, on the other hand, is not presiding over a court of law. He is presiding over a commission, which he does in his capacity as a chairman and not as a judge.

In doing so, he has ignored the guidelines laid down by the Constitutional Court, which recommend that judges turn down appointments outside of a court when such positions “create the risk of judicial entanglement in matters of political controversy”. He cannot now claim judicial protection from the consequences of his decision.

Instead of trying to create a spurious “balance” by creating false parallels between the ANC and the DA, Saunderson-Meyer should interrogate the facts a little more closely. On closer inspection he may find that his glib analysis does not hold water.

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