LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Zuma doesn't deserve benefits if he doesn't answer to allegations

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Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24

Nghamula Matukane has written a respone to a column by Mcebisi Ndletyana, saying he agrees with the professor's views on former president Jacob Zuma.

Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana's article "Defying Zondo makes Zuma unworthy of former president status" and the question: "Is he still a worthy recipient of the generosity of the state?" reminded me of what a well-known anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu said about the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) and its erstwhile leader Jacob Zuma in 2011.

"Mr Zuma, you and your government don't represent me. You represent your own interest and I am warning you. I really am warning you out of love. I am warning you like I warned the Nationalists. I am warning you. One day, we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government. You are disgraceful. I want to warn you. You are behaving in a way that is totally at variance with the things for which we stood," said Tutu.

The message was clearly in response to the arrogant behaviour on display during the time Jacob Zuma was at the helm of the ANC. Unsurprisingly, arrogance still finds itself in exhibition on the other side beyond the presidential office tenure as a result of toxicity of power and bad advice. 

The justification of arrogant behaviour mentioned above is based on two recent (never mind the rest prior to these ones) mishaps involving Jacob Zuma:

  • Abscondment from the state capture commission's proceedings in November 2020 without permission; and
  • Snubbing the Constitutional Court hearing in December 2020 in order to appear and answer questions at the state capture commission. This arrogant behaviour is reminiscent of someone riding roughshod over the constitutional apparatus of the country meant to uphold the rule of law due to purported toxic power they possess.

George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

I opine that's wrong, the latter should read: but some "think" they are more equal than others. That's exactly what is at play here.

The preamble of the Constitution of South Africa states clearly that every citizen is equally protected by law. The same goes for everyone implicated and appearing at the state capture commission (and other commissions), they are all protected by the same law, without prejudice or favour.

If it's true that former presidents are currently getting paid around R3 million salary per annum (even during this annus horribilis) and enjoy many other benefits at the expense of taxpayers, then the silence of those taxpayers and civil society formations is horribly deafening. They should call for the withdrawal of the salary and benefits from anyone seen to be defying the laws of the country.

Failure by taxpayers and civil society formations to exert pressure on the government to withdraw these benefits will set a bad precedent and ultimately render any constitutional apparatus dysfunctional.

Turning to Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana's question: Is Zuma a worthy recipient of the generosity of the state? The answer in my opinion is a resounding NO. The state should not continue to extend generosity to someone showing neither respect nor contrition for state apparatuses and the rule of law. Walking out of the legally constituted commission of inquiry (set up by Zuma) is tantamount to walking out of a court of law, and that behaviour is equivalent to disregard for the rule of law, and must be punishable within the legal framework.

The question remains: How long will Jacob Zuma play the victim card and look for public sympathy?   

- Nghamula Matukane, Roodepoort.

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