Mhambi has been redeployed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

After this Party: Broken reputations and hangovers

Pierre De Vos runs an excellent and informative blog, Constitutionally Speaking, on South African social, legal and constitutional issues, (as well as J P Pietersen and Bryan Habana's good looks).

He has just finished reading Andrew Feinstein's book After the Party, on the ANC and that arms deal. According to him the book is an indictment on the lack of principle of a number of our leaders. And it sheds some light on what is happening at present.

Ag please Frene

Says Pierre: "The list of people who suddenly ceased having any principles in this matter is very long indeed: Frene Ginwala, Mosiuoa Lekota, Alec Irwin, Jacob Zuma, Bulelani Ngcuka and Shauket Fakie all caved in to the Presidency.

What also surprised me from the book is how easily even the good guys were intimated and ended up fearful and nervous. Gavin Woods - the hero of the book, if there is any hero in it – was so scared and worried that “he looked like a broken man”, according to Feinstein."

Frene Ginwala, you will remember, has been tasked with investigating the current Pikoli affair and pronouncing on the Head of the Prosecuting Authorities' fitness to hold office. For the uninitiated, Pikoli is the current Head of Public Prosections in South Africa. He issued a warrant for the arrest of the Commisioner of Police. Soon after he found himself suspended by President Mbeki.

As Pierre pointed out in a previous post, the Pikoli enquiry's terms of reference does not inspire much hope:

"It is a very clever move to try and make the enquiry about national security, because it will allow Ginwala to have some or most of the enquiry behind closed doors, thus allowing a stitch-up without us knowing about it."

Pierre points out that it is sad to read that in the arms deal case, the Auditor General and the National Director of Public Prosecutions caved in to the Presidency. The AG allowed the Executive to make substantial changes to the arms deal report before it was published.

And Pierre is right to point out that it sheds new light on the Pikoli affair.

"It is difficult not to conclude that in the past the President had not suspended or fired the National Director because the National Director had followed his orders.

Feinstein states as fact that the initial decision to prosecute Schabir Shaik but not Jacob Zuma was taken on instructions of President Mbeki. He also suggests that the decision not to prosecute the biggest crook in the arms deal scandal, Chippy Shaik, was influenced by political considerations as set out by the President."

The Chip that did not go away

It seems evident that with the arms deal Mbeki's perennial Achilles heel, that massive racial chip on his shoulder, again played a role.

"President Mbeki had argued that there was nothing wrong with the awarding of the main contracts and that to argue otherwise was racist because it suggested that all Africans were corrupt.

It must therefore have come as a rude shock to President Mbeki when he ordered Mr Pikoli (through one of his surrogates) to stop the investigation against Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, and Mr Pikoli refused to do so."

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