#Nkandla: Ripple Effects
When Roman generals paraded through streets after victorious battles, they’d have a slave come up to murmur, “Memento mori” to them.
This is Latin for, “Remember that you [also someday] will die.” This idea is echoed in expressions like, “Pride comes before the fall” and “What goes around comes around.”
Just days before the Constitutional Court receives applications on the Public Protector’s findings on Nkandla, and just before the State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma has suddenly offered to repay some of the money for security upgrades to his residence.
This is not only an admission of defeat on Zuma’s part; it leaves egg the face of every person who defended him. And it begins to unravel the web of patronage he has woven about himself.
The Presidency’s site states that,
“While President Zuma remains critical of a number of factual aspects and legal conclusions in the [Public Protector’s] report, he proposes a simple course to implement what the Public Protector recommended as remedial action contained in the report.”
As pointed out by the DA, Zuma is trying to sideline normal legal processes, which, if taken to their ultimate logical conclusion, could have him impeached. For the timing of his offer may show he knows his conscious complicity over Nkandla to be damning despite factual and legal errors he claims are in the report. They’re not enough to mitigate his guilt. Otherwise he would have left it to the Constitutional Court to exonerate him; he could have played dumb and come off as innocent.
So out of his own mouth, a mouth that was once boastful and proud, Zuma has condemned himself. Because if the Court finds he has knowingly undermined the Public Protector’s constitutional powers, and in so doing has acted unconstitutionally, he would have given ammo for those who would have him step down as president. So what he should have remembered as he crackled over Nkaaaaaandla was that he too, would die because the laws of cause and effect by which he’d vanquished his foes have seen the rise and fall of men much greater than he.
But that universal rule is exactly that – universal. No one is exempt. If Zuma falls, it will set a precedent that ours is the sort of country where if it’s found that the State has enabled someone to enrich himself unduly or in ways that implicate him in injustice (even if that person can prove to not have known the entire situation as Zuma often claims) then the State balances the scales.
This will expand on to the beneficiaries of corruption in spite of their claim that they did not realise what was happening. But it will go further.
If it should ever be found that Julius Malema owes the Receiver money (and it’s been argued that he doesn’t) the EFF will hopefully also support justice and principle as much then as they do now. Memento more.
The beneficiaries of apartheid were who they were and it’s pointless for me to pontificate on that issue now. They could have been citizens or corporations or mine bosses. It does not matter; I do not have a vendetta. For if the sitting President can be brought to justice despite his claims to not have known what was happening in his backyard, then anyone in a similar situation can be placed under the same microscope.
By its own actions, the DA is headed for a moment where it will practically prove that its abhorrence of Zuma’s corruption is equalled by its desire to see justice visited upon the beneficiaries of apartheid, even if they happen to be within its ranks or among its voters. The DA itself has laid the groundwork for this day, and they will be happiest when it dawns, no? Memento mori.
No one is exempt. You are not; I am not either.
“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Siya Khumalo blogs about religion, politics and sex; he has also written a book (#TheUnveiledFacesProject coming soon).
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