It’s all about serving the people

2016-05-31 06:00

NATIONAL Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced this week that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will seek leave to appeal a high-court ruling that corruption charges be reinstated against President Jacob Zuma.

It was widely anticipated that the embattled NPA would pursue all means possible to avoid prosecuting the president of the country.

In making the announcement, Abrahams went to great lengths to defend his independence and insisted he is under no political influence.

“I am not a politician and I have no interest to be one,” Abrahams said. “There is no person or entity on this Earth who can influence me in making any decision.”

He also complained about how he is analysed and caricatured in the media as a political stooge.

It should be unnecessary for Abrahams to put up such an elaborate defence of integrity and reputation.

His conduct and the work of the NPA under his leadership should be enough to convince the public that he is fiercely independent and worthy of the position.

Sadly, this is not the case as he has shown himself to be a player in the political battles raging in the NPA and in government.

His inability to answer simple questions about why he is appealing the spy tapes matter also revealed his lack of conviction and confidence.

People who serve in positions to uphold the rule of law should be above reproach, and their credibility and political agendas should never be in question.

One such person is the now retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.

Moseneke retired from the Constitutional Court last week, after an emotional farewell ceremony.

The tributes to Moseneke spoke volumes about his integrity, legal mastery and commitment to serving the people of South Africa fairly and justly.

Moseneke was the youngest prisoner on Robben Island at the age of 15, and from the time of his release, spent his life fighting for a just and equal society.

In a moving farewell speech, Moseneke told how he had made “a conscious choice not to be a politician but to remain a freedom fighter and a revolutionary”.

He said former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson and former president Thabo Mbeki had tried to persuade him to become a judge.

It was Nelson Mandela who provided the convincing argument in one sentence: “Dikgang, your people need you.”

Indeed we did.

His wisdom and prudence contributed to the many landmark judgments that ensure that our society adheres to the rule of law, equality, human rights, quality education and basic services provided for in the Constitution.

Moseneke’s fierce independence, however, deprived him of the position of chief justice. In his farewell speech, he was happy to repeat a statement he made eight years ago that earned him disapproval among some in the ANC leadership.

“It is not what the ruling party wants, it is not what any other political party wants, it is what is good for our people. That is what makes me wake up in the morning and be a good justice of this court as all my faculties permitted me,” Moseneke said.

He paid tribute to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, saying he is a “safe pair of hands”, but warned there are turbulent times ahead.

At the end of his speech, Moseneke was so overcome with emotion that he could not utter these words in the written text: “May God give us leaders the wisdom and the care that we need to deliver our people and may all of us be granted the wisdom to know that each is his or her own liberator, and may find the space to make a real difference.”

There are many people in public office who fail to recognise the responsibility of their high calling and use their positions for nefarious purposes.

We can only hope that the legacy of giants like Moseneke will continue to guide us in these troubled times.

• Ranjeni Munusamy is a political ­journalist and commentator for the Daily Maverick.


“It is not what the ruling party wants, it is not what any other political party wants, it is what is good for our people. That is what makes me wake up in the morning and be a good justice of this court as all my faculties

permitted me, said” Moseneke.

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