What a week!

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By Kabelo Mollo

What a harrowing week it has been. Watching our brethren across the Mohokare revolt by way of violent protests and looting and dare I say, wanton criminality.

Watching gas tankers and other essential economic drivers get burned down, while warehouses, malls and shop fronts have faced similar destruction. Something is afoot in the Republic. This comes just weeks after the uprisings in Eswatini. Southern Africa seems to be going through something, quite what, one must wonder?

Jacob G. Zuma former president of the Republic of South Africa was found guilty of contempt of court just a week ago, and seemingly these protests stem from a societal rejection of that ruling. The people, it is suggested have taken up arms to defend the 79-year olds right to a fair trial before detention.

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The people involved know very well the former president was given a fair trial, a fair hearing and was even extended the courtesy of making a suggestion in terms of an amicable solution. Having failed to do so, and choosing rather to insult constitutional court justices and hubristically claiming he is not scared of going to jail, he now finds himself behind bars. Judge Sisi Khampepe-who’s report on Zimbabwe we eagerly await seeing- read a sound judgment according to many legal minds which captured the courts rationale succinctly.

It is claimed that these protests along with the looting and burning of infrastructure are as a direct result of that decision to incarcerate the former state President. Increasingly people are wondering out loud whether the old man shouldn’t be pardoned so as to allow calm to prevail. I doubt very much that calm would return were Zuma to be pardoned, but even beyond that, I wonder why there’s such a clamour for the former guardian of the constitution to be deemed above the law.

 It is my firm view that South Africa’s problems with “Msholozi” began when Mokotedi Mpshe opted to use “his discretion” in not proffering charges of corruption related to the arms deal after Schabir Shaik was found guilty of graft and corruption. In effect, to this day, Shaik was a corrupter, but there’s still no coruptee in his case. Had Mpshe and the ANC not played politics, and allowed Zuma to stand trial, he’d have either cleared his name and had a free ride to leadership, or found himself in one of the Republics correctional services facility.

Instead we got a president with a whiff of corruption following him wherever he went. Then, once he was in Tuynhuys, the real fun began.

In my mind there’s no scenario where it makes sense to allow Zuma to walk away from this sentence nor the Zondo commission, nor the arms deal trial which is finally under way. He has already side stepped the Judiciary once in favour of a political settlement, a second time would be a major blight on the republics democratic principles, not least being all are equal in the eyes of the law. The courts will do well to hold firm on their decisions, not because me and others wish it so, but because it’s the right thing to do even in natural justice.

The most unfair thing in this whole saga is who suffers from the destruction of businesses and the economy in the Republic. It is no secret that theirs is an unequal society borne of a maligned discredited system, the economy is skewed to favour the few over the many, but even still it is an economy that has seen the middle classes grow four thousand per cent, and has provided work, and work opportunities for some. The lower end of the market will now really and truly struggle to find a way for a living. Already we are seeing stories of one billion Rand worth of damages in KZN, that cost will have to be borne by someone, and that someone is likely to decide that’s one billion too much in terms of rebuilding. That’s jobs, that’s economic drivers, that’s real poverty for those affected. Meanwhile, the rebuild that comes, will be at the expense of the poor not with them as so many seem to hope will happen.

The factional battles of the ruling party have spilled out in to the streets of South Africa and the outcome will be dire. It is heartbreaking to see the once mighty liberation movement come asunder in so spectacular a way. In a perfect world, this would be the end of the beginning and not the beginning of the end, but one thing is for sure, and that is, we don’t live in a perfect world…

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