….. editorial posted 3 March 2022……

The judiciary could be winning against the radicals….

Some good things are beginning to happen at last.    If you can ignore the international breaking news endlessly pouring in with pictures of Putin’s monstrous behaviour and you avoid looking at the numbers rolling over on your petrol pump as if it were a slot machine, you may have noticed some spring shoots of hope that have at last seeded in the Presidency.

We have seen this from our newly acquired seat in Company Gardens, about the only place you can find a somewhere to sit down in a sadly burnt-out parliamentary precinct. We are pleased to tell you that the delightful building known as De Tuynhuys was, however, totally untouched by fire.

This is the time in the parliamentary calendar, six months before an ANC elective conference, where one should not take any remarks from an MP too seriously.  Everything is about getting votes for the party or an attempt to climb higher on the party list for jobs in the coming five-year parliamentary term.

The good news we have so badly needed at this time seems to have been countered by a selection of ANC ministers going out of their way to cause distress to business with radical viewpoints not heard so loudly before.  Even Minister Patricia de Lille, with her freshly tabled Expropriation Bill now hanging like a Damocles sword over tiny gains in economic growth, is sounding like Boadicea.

This has been followed by Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, and Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, both attacking industry and business on all fronts with new B-BBEE laws introducing penalties, since nobody in business has made their transformation plan work properly, they say.

Then we began to see those seeds of hope turn into a good thing when, with apparent good sense, Concourt ruled the state can back out of the 2018 wage deal with the unions. Not a parliamentary issue but it started the day right and pointed to the fact that every “good thing” seems be a case of the judiciary winning over aimless party politics.

The biggest “good thing” now is that Parliament has in its hands the third instalment of the State Capture Report, President Cyril Ramaphosa having had the first read before it went to the Speaker of the House.  Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo must be quite breathless with the wait, as indeed all members of parliament are as well, to hear the first results of the Presidential critique. Whatever happens, whatever the outcomes, the waiting is over, which fact must contribute to the return of stability. In the meanwhile, the parliamentary pot has been stirred and the worms are emerging.

From a parliamentary aspect, no doubt the issue will soon arise for a number of ANC MPs whether they declared under the Code of Ethical Conduct the hand outs and the free security installations they acquired from Bosasa now that the Deputy Chief Justice says they did. The “innocent until proven guilty” thing and Stalingrad defence idea is not going to work under parliamentary rules, whether on a virtual platform or not, and it will be no good trying the mute button.

The second “good thing” was found hidden away on the opinion page of Business Day, 28 February.   It was a piece written by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, headed “Prosecutions must follow Zondo report to affirm rule of law”. The timing of the article has an uncanny parallel to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, when the soothsayer’s words “Beware the Ides of March” were heard as a warning from the crowd.

In this case it seemed to be a warning to the participants of the crime of state capture.

Written in his personal capacity, which make his comments doubly meaningful, Lamola says the Zondo report “will mean nothing if the rule of law is not felt in every corner of the nation”.  On the subject of the high costs of state prosecution, he says, “Our attempt to reconfigure a nation that almost lost its soul to the highest bidder, cannot be quantified. Future generations will view this moment in which SA broke the shackles of corruption.”

On this, he went on to suggest that any funds repatriated to the fiscus as part of state capture recovery, either illicit transfers or straight recoveries, must go to the NPA.  “This situation”, said Lamola “requires clarity of purpose, innovation and the utmost determination to pursue those who have callously de-railed our constitutional gains.”

He concluded by saying, as if to an imaginary Brutus perhaps, “There is no better time to ensure that the dagger of justice penetrates deep into the many veins and arteries of the corruption that have destabilised our hard-won democracy and constitutional promise. There is no question that the Zondo Commission report findings must be implemented.”

On the same day President Ramaphosa chimed in with another “good thing”. He announced the appointment of Andrea Johnson to lead the NPA.

Patrick McLaughlin

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