Ralph Mathekga

2016 a spectacle of court cases

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

President Jacob Zuma. (Netwerk24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

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


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.