The current season of political lawsuits is in full swing as former ministers Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Siphiwe Nyanda look set to join former minister of tourism Derek Hanekom in preparing defamation lawsuits against former president Jacob Zuma after he publicly called them spies.
Hanekom was the first to take the bull by the horns when he filed a R500 000 defamation lawsuit against Zuma on August 5 at the Durban High Court.
The action was motivated by Zuma’s having labelled him a “known enemy agent” on Twitter.
Ramatlhodi, former minister of public service and administration, told City Press that he had this week met with Hanekom and discussed the possibility of him joining in the civil litigation proceedings.
“I did talk to him [Hanekom] about the possibility of joining in with him. We went through the process with his lawyers about what to do. I am following up on that, I think it might be easy for us to do it together.
“I was Hanekom’s commander by the way. I trained him in Zimbabwe, I was head of the political military committee in Zimbabwe, so I know Hanekom as his commander,” said Ramatlhodi, rubbishing the accusation of his being a spy.
Ramatlhodi had initially accused Zuma of auctioning his executive authority to the Gupta family during his presidency, resulting in the latter calling both he and Nyanda spies when he appeared before the Zondo commission.
Nyanda, who was minister of communications from 2009 to 2010, confirmed to City Press that he would be pursuing a case of defamation against the former president. Nyanda and Ramathlodi have not yet quantified in monetary terms the claims they will be making against Zuma. However, the trend seems to be R500 000.
The lawsuit season started after former finance minister Trevor Manuel hauled the EFF to court in May over remarks the party made about his involvement in a selection panel that conducted interviews for the appointment of the new SA Revenue Commissioner. He won the case and the EFF was ordered to pay R500 000.
Hanekom is seeking the same amount from Zuma in his case to be heard on August 21.
Another prominent political figure who has fallen victim to a R500 000 defamation lawsuit is Nelson Mandela Bay ANC councillor Andile Lungisa.
The outspoken Lungisa was sued by Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago this week for defamation after two tweets that characterised Kganyago as a “lackey of racist people”.
“You must remember, we never just decided to respond, I never just tweeted. We responded to what the governor said – that members of society were barbarians at the gate [of the Reserve Bank] when we called for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, but today we are having a governor who takes refuge in our courts when we return his insults with facts.”
Lungisa added that he would meet the governor in court and was confident that Kganyago had no case since the exchange between the pair “merely amounted to a political debate without any malice [intended]”.
He went on to question the timing of the court cases and the fact that Hanekom, Kganyago and Manuel were using the same law firm.
“The same law firm which represents Hanekom is the same law firm which represents the governor.
“The same Hanekom was at [former deputy finance minister] Mcebisi Jonas’ book launch on Tuesday, the same governor was at the same book launch with [Public Enterprises Minister] Pravin [Gordhan].”
Lungisa alleged that the lawsuits were a coordinated plan to attack certain political figures within the ANC.
“We have no choice but to defend ourselves against the Lesetjas of this world and the Jamnandas [Gordhans] of this world, who believe that freedom of speech is for the settlers and their errand boys only,” said Lungisa.