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By William Saunderson-Meyer

Journalist


Our ex-speaker’s cardinal sin

One of the ANC’s elite giving the justice system and the masses the finger less than two months before a general election was just not on.


The ANC has an ingrained contempt for the judiciary and the rule of law that is mostly concealed, but occasionally bursts into inadvertent display.

It’s an arrogance that stretches from the lowest ranks to the highest offices, including that of the president and his ministers.

ALSO READ: Mapisa-Nqakula tries to punch holes in state’s case, says she ’embraces the legal system’

In the past couple of weeks, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula provided a showcase display of this arrogance and disregard.

As part of a corruption investigation, following allegations that Mapisa-Nqakula – who until Wednesday was the National Assembly speaker – had solicited and received bribes for awarding contracts while minister of defence, her home had been raided by the Hawks.

‘Apartheid style’ tactics

In response, bristling with her self-importance, Mapisa-Nqakula made an urgent application to the High Court in Pretoria, accusing the Investigating Directorate of “apartheid-style” tactics in investigating and “humiliating her.

There should be none of the indignity of a criminal arrest. Instead, she should be issued with a summons to court at a date that best suited her.

The prosecutors should also disclose in full to her, before any court appearance, what “paper-thin” evidence they might have, as well as provide her with all the documentation underpinning their decision to prosecute.

From the outset, this was an obviously doomed application. Judge Sulet Potterill on Tuesday struck the case from the roll on the basis that it was not urgent, along with some stern words regarding the principle that everyone is equal before the law.

Following Potterill’s ruling, the dominoes fell fast. Mapisa-Nqakula resigned immediately as speaker and an MP. On Thursday morning, she presented herself at Lyttelton police station to be charged.

At her later court appearance, bail was set at R50 000.

Mapisa-Nqakula had made the politician’s cardinal sin: she misread the political winds.

ALSO READ: Mapisa-Nqakula didn’t resign because she’s guilty – Ramaphosa

Initially, there was support for her within the ANC, but then it dawned that the spectacle of one of the party’s elite giving the justice system and the masses the finger less than two months before a difficult general election was just not on.

But Mapisa-Nqakula is merely a blip. Far more threatening to the ANC are the implications of another politically explosive judgment, which will reveal whether President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula may have lied to the courts, as well as to a judicial inquiry.

In the High Court in Johannesburg, Judge Brad Wanless has ruled the ANC and Mbalula were in contempt of court for redacting the cadre deployment documents that the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) had ordered them to provide to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

When the ConCourt subsequently ordered that the deployment minutes be made open to public scrutiny, the ANC continued to duck and dive.

The minutes given to the DA were heavily redacted and none related to the period of Ramaphosa’s chairmanship.

ANC claims minutes were lost

The ANC explained there was only one copy of the Ramaphosa minutes and they had been lost when the hard drive in the laptop of a manager in Mbalula’s office crashed.

Wanless has now not only ordered the ANC to remove all redactions, but Wanless has extended the net cast.

Any information and communications relating to the deployment committee and between its members must also be handed over. Unredacted.

Wanless also ordered the ANC to allow a DA-designated expert to examine the errant laptop and hard drive, as well as the personal and work laptops of another ANC official.

While Ramaphosa, assisted by the Reserve Bank, SA Revenue Service, and the public prosecutor and parliament, was able to duck the fallout from the Phala Phala scandal, this is different. This is going to be far more challenging.

And the ANC has only 15 days to comply. Cue some desperate legal manoeuvres from Jacob Zuma’s Stalingrad manual.