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LETTER: Correctly handled, Fraser is the one who will be checkmated

There is too little information in the public domain to know whether the criminal complaints against the president initiated by Arthur Fraser have any substance

03 JUNE 2022 – 14:45 PAUL HOFFMAN

There is too little information in the public domain at present to know whether the criminal complaints against the president initiated by Arthur Fraser have any substance (“Ramaphosa fires back at former spy boss over ‘disinformation’“, June 2). Some issues are straight conflicts of fact: either hush money in the form of bribes was paid, or it wasn’t. Either those involved somehow or other were kidnapped, or they were not.

On other aspects, interpretation of the statutes on which Fraser relies will be necessary. Clearly there was no obligation to report the robbery to the police. Some antecedent illegal transaction usually precedes money-laundering: was it illegal in any way to sell the animals? Was the retention of a huge pile of foreign cash cleared with the relevant authorities? All too murky at present to know. What is clear is that the complaint was carefully timed to precede the final report of the Zondo state capture commission by two weeks. Fraser, being Fraser, was surely apprised of the story years ago.  

It is anticipated that the final report will put the ANC in an even worse light than already exists. The combination of complaint and report in this timing is apparently designed to further the agenda of the “radical economic transformation” faction of the ANC, to which Fraser seems to be loyally attached. He may just be scattering bargaining chips because he fears arrest for his role in state capture. If, however, this is a game of chess rather than a gamble, the question is whether Fraser has put Ramaphosa in check, or whether Fraser has checkmated him.

A lot will depend on the more detailed and accountable response the president gives. He already says the complaint will not distract him from his anti-corruption agenda. This scrap of good news could mean imminent engagements with the relevant 2020 resolution of the ANC leadership, the plans of the official opposition and the draft legislation and constitutional amendment supplied by Accountability Now (which has been gathering dust on a far corner of the presidential desk since last August.)

All three initiatives address the need for reform of the criminal justice administration in remarkably similar and anti-corrupt ways. The ministry of justice is seized with a sense of urgency on the topic. Correctly and adroitly handled, Fraser is the one who will be checkmated.

Paul Hoffman, SC

Director, Accountability Now

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