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LETTER: We need answers about ministers’ unrest spat

09 August 2021 – 15:13

What with a cabinet reshuffle affecting a third of the national cabinet, the state and the courts at loggerheads with Jacob Zuma, and a fresh set of demands from the #FreeJacobZuma campaigners, SA is certainly not boring.

The reshuffle leaves unresolved the factual dispute between police minister Bheki Cele and former state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo as to whether intelligence concerning the July uprising/disorder after Zuma’s incarceration was communicated to the police. Section 92(2) of the constitution requires that the cabinet accept collective responsibility, and with both ministers remaining in the cabinet, the politics will be far messier.

Whether parliamentary oversight of their spat will produce open, accountable and responsive answers to the issues it raises is a matter of vital national importance. The Moloi inquiry found Cele “dishonest and incompetent” and our over-stretched prosecutors are investigating his apparent corruption; these are factors Dlodlo should raise in the parliamentary inquiry, but probably won’t.

The directives from the Constitutional Court calling for further argument in the Zuma vs Zondo rescission application will probably serve only to delay and not illuminate the issues in that dispute. International law is unlikely to be of any help to the court, as civil imprisonment for contempt of court is a peculiarly local remedy. In the State vs Zuma, Billy Downer SC’s longest running stop-start case, a postponement due to the hospitalisation of Zuma looms large.

The vocal Zuma supporters, led by the execrable Carl Niehaus, all appear to be disgruntled members of the ANC. Googling the names of those who issued the latest set of demands on August 5 is most instructive. Their threats, if acted on, have the potential to seriously undermine the order of the day. Whether the ANC regards their actions, demands and threat to take their gripes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as matters that bring the party into disrepute to such an extent that disciplinary proceedings and possible expulsions follow, also remains to be seen. The ICC is most unlikely to take their complaints seriously. The ANC would be well rid of them.

Paul Hoffman SC, Director, Accountability Now

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