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The good guys are ganging up on state gangsters

Paul Hoffman | 10 February 2022 CSOs write to president, say peace and justice in SA will be unattainable while corruption runs rampant

The good guys are ganging up on state gangsters

10 February 2022

The late, great Desmond Tutu would be proud. Increasingly, non-governmental organisations are ganging up to lobby the State to stop prevaricating and to get on with the process of prosecution and debt collection arising from the Zondo Commission’s report.

For years, the corruption gangsters have tightly networked, synergizing their crimes. For example, the second volume of the Zondo report describes Finance Minister hob-knobbing with the Gupta brothers, who kept replenishing his carry-bag – full of R200 notes for his shopping sprees.

Meanwhile, the private sector and civil society have mustered significant counter-attacks, but usually in “silos” acting in their own right. Can you name them?

Which NGO ran to get an arrest warrant for Al Bashir when he attended an OAU summit here – with impunity?

Which businessman personally challenged the closing of the Scorpions as unconstitutional?

Which NGO took the JSC to the Constitutional Court last year, opining that the interviews for the next Chief Justice had not conformed to the relevant procedures?

Which businessman has battled ex-premier and now Deputy President Mabuza for his role in land claims fraud?

Last of all, which NGO was it that opened a “state capture” complaint with the Public Protector, triggering Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report that led on to the Zondo Commission?

If you get less than five-out-of-five on this quiz, then you should be happy to know that NGOs are starting to join forces to push for state action arising out of the Zondo Commission’s work. Remember “The Elders”? They were formed to monitor the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. Well, now we have “The Sentinels” – whose remit is to monitor the progress of the Zondo Commission’s recommendations. Made up of august organisations such as Accountability Now, Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership, F.W. de Klerk Foundation, Peace Centre and the Free Market Foundation, the Sentinels are keeping watch on government action.

Here’s another quiz:

What is ex-President Jacob Zuma’s next court date?

In what court in Deputy President David Mabuza’s fraud case being heard?

How long did President Ramaphosa sit on the report into last year’s “uprising” before releasing it to the public?

How long has it been that the investigation report into the Mpumalanga Murders has been kept from public scrutiny?

How many times have the JSC been told to re-do the interviews for a new Chief Justice?

The point is that some people know some of the answers. But there needs to be monitoring that builds up a head of steam. This can only happen when the stand-alone “silos” are inter-connected and synergizing. United we will stand tall, divided we will come up short.

But getting NGOs to pull in one direction together is a bit like herding cats. Nevertheless, cats are agile and clever. A herd of cats can operate very effectively, as when hungry lions go out hunting.

The first letter sent out by “The Sentinels” to President Ramaphosa on the reform of the justice administration follows. (The letter was also copied to Justice Minister Lamola, and to the chairs of the Constitutional Review Committee and the Justice Portfolio committee in Parliament.) The letter challenges the state on how serious corruption will be brought to book, and how government plans to accelerate the process.

And the Sentinels will not leave the matter. Other civil society organisations and businesses that are equally frustrated by the lack of action, should join the clarion call until the demand for justice is a deafening imperative.

LETTER TO PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA FROM THE SENTINELS

8 February 2022

Honourable State President

Cc: Honourable Minister of Justice

Cc: Chair of the Constitutional Review committee

Cc: Chair of the Justice Portfolio committee

Dear President Ramaphosa,

RE: Reform of the criminal justice administration

A familiar meme is “No justice, no peace”.

It is plain that peace and justice in SA will be unattainable while serious corruption without consequences continues to run rampant. The necessary business confidence and trust in the future of the economy will also not be realised while impunity reigns.

Accordingly: poverty, inequality and unemployment will be exacerbated while serious corruption continues as evidenced by state capture and covidpreneurism.

But how do we bring “serious corruption” to book?

There is a need to reform the workings of the criminal justice administration in order to better implement the findings of the Constitutional Court in the Glenister litigation. Draft bills have been suggested to government by an NPO called Accountability Now in August 2021.  A year earlier, the NEC of the ANC passed a resolution – one which aligns with the suggestions made in these drafts. Reform is an appropriate response to what is emerging from the SCC and the SIU reports at this time.

We call upon government to give urgent attention to starting the process needed to reform the law. The DA is busy with a similar initiative and the IFP supports the reform suggested by Accountability Now.

Out of the crucible of vigorous parliamentary debate, a best practice means of implementing the law as enunciated in binding terms by the Constitutional Court in the Glenister cases must emerge soon. The political will to commence that debate is all that is left lacking.

What does government have in mind to accelerate this process?

Our purpose in collaborating on this communication is to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution by accelerating due process needed for some urgent improvements by government to the structure and operations of criminal justice administration.  These reforms are urgently needed to put its ability to counter serious corruption on a sound footing that is compliant with the binding Glenister litigation findings.  We are only trying to enhance due process.  Proper implementation of the rulings made by the Constitutional Court ought to be prioritised out of respect for the rule of law.  The era of impunity must end.

Reform is a more rising imperative with every volume of the Zondo Commission’s report that is released.  The purpose of The Sentinels is to monitor the Zondo Commission report and the criminal justice system’s progress to make sure that those who have acted unlawfully are called to give account to society.  (In much the same way that The Elders monitored the Millennium Development Goals and progress in bringing forth social justice.)

Co-signed by The Sentinels…

Accountability Now

Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership

F.W. de Klerk Foundation

Peace Centre

Free Market Foundation

Issued by Paul Hoffman SC, Director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, 10 February 2022

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