Ironic demand

2008-07-30 00:00

I learnt yesterday that the KwaZulu-Natal provincial council of the South African Communist Party (SACP) had resolved last weekend to ask the government to set up a commission to investigate the “political harassment” of African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the media, certain “key individuals” and the judiciary. It also called again for all charges against Zuma to be dropped. A press briefing by SACP functionaries was critical of the eight-year “fishing expedition” conducted against Zuma by the NPA, cast aspersions on the justice system and proclaimed the intention of the SACP, ANC and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to bring the province to a standstill during Zuma’s court appearance next week. To this irresponsible bombast must be added SACP leader Blade Nizimande’s earlier comment, cited in a reader’s letter yesterday, that the SA Human Rights Commission was behaving like a kangaroo court with regards to the Zuma case.

It is interesting that the SACP is suddenly so vociferous. Before Polokwane it was the Cinderella of the Tripartite Alliance, the mute representative of a political philosophy that has been abandoned by most of the rest of the world. But following the eclipse of President Thabo Mbeki and the political shift accompanying the ascent of Zuma it has grown increasingly outspoken, promoting the case of its chosen leader, mouthing threats — and the more it attempts to steal centre stage, the less that seems to be heard from alliance partners Cosatu and the ANC itself.

In the process, the SACP seems not to grasp the irony inherent in its demand for an investigation of political harassment. Yes, indeed, the case against Zuma has been unacceptably protracted, but this is not all the fault of the NPA or the media or the judiciary: instead it lies largely at the door of Zuma himself and his supporters, including the SACP, over the years trying every possible delaying tactic to avoid his facing the charges against him.

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