Jacob Zuma and the Misrule of Law

2015-03-02 19:30

All powerful No. 1, Jacob Zuma (CityPress)

In SA Today, Helen Zille writes on the concept of ‘state capture.’ She focuses on how the ANC under President Jacob Zuma has hijacked state apparatus responsible for elections. As Zille’s theory goes, the end goal is to rig the electoral game, ensuring the ANC’s entrenched and continued political dominance.

The World Bank defines state capture along these lines: when state agencies act in accordance with private, rather than public, interests. Public officials can capture the state when they misuse their authority to shape institutions and laws to further their own objectives. This is especially likely in transitional states – nascent institutions lack the formal (legal) and/or operational ability to hold the political class to account.

And other institutions are not immune. Zuma’s presidency has deliberately eroded the independence of those intuitions that underpin the rule of law.

Take 4 examples: (1) Anwar Dramat was illegally suspended as Head of the Hawks – the Hawks are investigating Zuma for corruption over Nkandla; (2) the appointment of dubious characters to head the prosecuting authority – which is contemplating reinstating corruption charges against Zuma; (3) the recent resignation of the Special Investigating Unit – which is also investigating Zuma for corruption; and (4) the sustained attempt by the ANC to undermine the Public Protector – which found Zuma guilty of improper conduct.

Two things inform the ANC’s rationale for doing this.

Firstly, the ANC is a Marxist-Leninist party. Marxist ideology; Leninist methodology. The ANC struggles with the former but enduring organisational discipline thrives. Consider cadre deployment policy –appointing loyalists to key institutions the party ensures all potential opposition is brought under its heel. The ANC’s political programme is premised on the centralisation of power: embedding itself within national and individual consciousness is how it will dominate forever. It is calculated and terrifying.

Secondly, Zuma has successfully co-opted a critical mass into his personal agenda. Through using state and party power as the basis of his patronage, Zuma has ensured that no-one can hold him accountable. Too many people within the ANC have propped him up, defending him, and themselves benefitted. The logic is genius: he has made their preoccupation ensuring his fate is secured; if he goes down, they go with him.

South Africans should look north if they want to see what this means; Zimbabwe serves as a stark reminder. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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