Sharp minds and blunt objects

2008-08-15 00:00

The South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande’s reputed sharpness is somewhat dulled of late. He has clearly been rubbing against some blunting objects in the Tripartite Alliance’s cutlery drawer.

Such signs of lacklustre might be the result of exposure to the rough-and-ready instruments of persuasion introduced by the SACP’s allies, the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, who pledge to “kill for Zuma”.

Perhaps it’s from sharing quarters with a club or two, a lead-lined cosh, some wooden

truncheons, assegais, and a gun box of trademark umshinis. Maybe also a jumbo pack of matches and can of lighter fluid for recalcitrant “counter-revolutionaries” of whom — how tiresome — an example must be made.

Aside from a willingness to lay down lives, particularly those of others, to ensure that ANC president Jacob Zuma becomes the country’s president, Nzimande’s lot have been particularly vocal in the past weeks about how the judicial process should work.

Following the fraud, corruption and racketeering charges against Zuma, Nzimande says that justice isn’t just about “a day in court” — which Zuma initially claimed to want but has since desperately tried to avoid — but about the “whole process”. What the SACP appears to mean by this is that justice cannot be exercised independently by judges but should be an administrative part of a politically driven process.

Since the ruling party is the repository of all wisdom and those who disagree with it are dupes at best, expendable counter-revolutionaries at worst, court judgments that differ from the ruling party line are simply wrong. Nor can that “wrongness” be left to the appeal process; judges have to understand that findings must chime with the ruling party’s ideology and strategy.

The establishment figures now clinging to Zuma’s coat-tails delude themselves that this is all rhetoric, designed to pressure President Thabo Mbeki to intervene and stop the prosecution of Zuma. Whatever the original intention of the anti-judiciary-rule-of-law invective, it is taking on a life of its own.

Many in the SACP, ANCYL, and the Congress of SA Trade Unions now seem actually to believe that the Constitution is a liberal, white construct inimical to socialism’s so-called national democratic revolution, rather than the stellar achievement of the liberation struggle that it is.

Some are unhappy about last week’s Cape High Court ruling that suspended the Road Accident Fund’s (RAF) new payment system, which would have seen compensation paid directly into the bank accounts of victims as opposed to those of their lawyers. But not for them the convention of expressing dismay and then appealing any errors of law that they believe Acting Judge President Jeanette Traverso to have made.

Instead, some activist organisations from the Zuma camp, led by the powerful SA Transport and Allied Workers Union and echoed by the head of the RAF, accused Traverso of “bias from the onset” in favour of venal fellow lawyers and the ruling as proof of the judiciary’s “bias against the poor”.

“The manner in which the judgment was arrived at again begs the question as to whether ordinary working-class South Africans can really depend on judges who appear to be more incapable of taking independent and objective decisions,” the organisations said.

Such an outrageous libel of the Bench would be unthinkable in most democracies. But a judiciary subordinated to the state was the norm in the now defunct Communist societies from which the SACP still sucks sustenance like some kind of perverted, ideological necrophiliac.

The SACP takes great risks with our common future. Theirs is a mistaken assumption that populist destruction can be deployed and then, at will, stayed.

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