Monday, March 2, 2009



By Justice Malala
Mar 02, 2009

"It might be legal — but is it ethical, is it right?"
"ANC election list a rogues gallery"

THE ANC unveiled its election list last week. As expected, Jacob Zuma is at the top, meaning that if the party wins the election, the country will have a president who will be shuttling between the Union Buildings and the law courts from August.

SA Elections 2009

That is not the issue. The issue is that South Africa has a choice about electing a man who faces charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. If ours were a country of some ethical standards, there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Zuma should step aside until he has resolved his legal issues.

Not here. Instead, the lame excuse is that he is innocent until proved guilty. We are refusing to acknowledge that what is legal might not be appropriate, just or moral.

For the sake of convenience, we use a purely legal argument to help a compromised man to the most important seat in the land. It is worth noting that, despite constantly begging to have his day in court, Zuma has appeared in court more than 30 times to delay his day in court.

A central plank of the ANC’s election message is that it will crack down on corruption. This, perhaps, explains why Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, convicted of fraud, is at number five on the party’s list. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said she qualified for the list because the Constitution is silent on suspended sentences. “There would be no legal reason to exclude her,” he said. He is probably right. Not a word, though, about whether there is an ethical reason for excluding her, in a country swamped by corruption.

The list of similar reprobates in the top 100 list of the ANC goes on. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, convicted in Botswana for theft, makes it back at a comfortable number 25. Nyami Booi, who goes to court later this year for trying to defraud Parliament in the Travelgate scam, is on the list. I am sure that he is innocent until proved guilty, too.

Malusi Gigaba, the deputy home affairs minister who bought flowers for his wife at the taxpayers’ expense, is set for a cabinet post. I am sure he can speak authoritatively on the “zero tolerance” fight against corruption at home affairs.

The ANC election list is depressing reading, peppered with people so compromised that it is amazing that the rest of the ANC team does not feel soiled just by being on it.

Cope, which has been blowing its horn about moral leadership, has just picked Allan Boesak for the Western Cape premiership. He was jailed for fraud in 2000. To claim, as he does, that legally he is in the clear because he was pardoned and his record expunged is to use the same legal nonsense Mantashe uses. It is not just the law at issue, it is the party’s ethics as well.

It is not enough to run our country on the basis of what is legal . It is also important to take into consideration ideas of what is right and wrong, proper and improper; to have a sense of shame.

We know there is no sense of shame when the ANC picks Oupa Monareng, convicted of bribing a policeman, to sit in judgment in Parliament over Vusi Pikoli, whose stature is equivalent to that of a judge.

But shame went out the window long ago, when the ANC’s senior leaders carried Tony Yengeni on their shoulders as he went to Pollsmoor Prison for fraud, and when national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, questioned about his links to the underworld character Glenn Agliotti, said: “[He’s] my friend, finish and klaar.”

This election will go down in history as a race won by a party weighed down by the most unethical leadership in its 97-year history. We, the people, deserve them.