Update on Gordhan arrest
It should be noted that the outrage of the Presidency and Shaun Abrahams head of the NPA over the Sunday Times report relates to the question of whether an arrest is “imminent”. They deny that but Abrahams confirms that he has been given a docket and sent it back for further work and he cannot confirm or deny whether Gordhan is a suspect. In other words, the Hawks, being rather eager to please Zuma and get rid of the Treasury people, may have presented a mishmash of evidence that is not easy to prosecute. NPA cannot work on that. So it is by no means over.
That is not to say that they can successfully prosecute Gordhan or anyone else in relation to the ‘rogue unit’ that never existed. The Sunday Times was fed information about this alleged unit but has in recent times fully recanted on that story and admitted that it was not ethical journalism. The Press Ombud had already found that to be the case. It will be hard to prove that Gordhan or others involved in the SARS at the time acted illegally.
The NPA is engaged in a lot of legal actions that are politically problematic but also unsuccessful. It has been rapped over the knuckles over prosecuting Booysen in KZN under Nomgciba Jiba (one of the bases for the bar council moving for her to be disciplined) but now he has been re-charged with substantially the same charges as before, under Abrahams.
This is part of a broader attack on the functioning of law enforcement agencies where they manifest professionalism and integrity. Charges or suspensions against others considered problematic like General Sibiya and Robert McBride have been thrown out or are still being contested. There is hardly an institution where there is optimal functionality, due to the political reasons for removing people.
This morning the Sunday Times carried a lead story to the effect that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was about to be arrested and prosecuted for espionage, in relation to the discredited claim that a ‘rogue unit’ had been established in SARS. I and many others on social media believed the report but the Presidency denied it. At this point (Sunday evening) the Sunday Times has not said whether it stands by its story but it has also not withdrawn the claims
What is significant is that so many of us were willing to believe what may well be true, albeit delayed for now. We have come to expect cavalier treatment of legality that one can hold a key government position and them be arrested on flimsy charges the next day. That is the SA that we now live in under Zuma, a lawless state, with virtually every law enforcement agency compromised or under attack. The sooner we can find ways of restoring constitutional democracy the better for all of us.
The Mail and Guardian correspondent covering Nigerian President Buhari’s visit to London refers to his election being the first democratic change of power since 1960. (page 18). Totally inaccurate if one checks recent history which a correspondent ought to know?
It is my impression that there is fairly cavalier treatment of ANC history, with reference more than once to the ANC’s ‘anti-pass defiance campaign of the 1950s’, sufficiently vague to cover a minute element of the 1952 Defiance campaign, but not the precision we ought to receive from supposed specialists on the ANC.
It does not appear that journalists who start to cover a particular area of politics bother to read the history, focusing on what is happening and if they hear an ANC version of what is traditional in the ANC, that is what they report as how the ANC does it. There are one or two exceptions, people who have done their homework and continue to do so. Maybe there is a need for some people to take off a few weeks to get up to speed on the background of what they write about.
I am not writing about novices, but fairly senior journalists who have taken short cuts for some time