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By Sipho Ngwema | Mar 10, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WHEN a former colleague at the now defunct Scorpions profoundly admonished that the biggest problem with lying is that one must tell another lie to maintain a lie - he probably had a President Abraham Lincoln quip in mind - and not President Jacob Zuma.

WHEN a former colleague at the now defunct Scorpions profoundly admonished that the biggest problem with lying is that one must tell another lie to maintain a lie - he probably had a President Abraham Lincoln quip in mind - and not President Jacob Zuma.

For it was this 16th president of the US who once said no man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.

Were Zuma aware of these warnings he clearly wouldn't endlessly make himself a subject of ridicule and scorn.

In 2003 the Scorpions uncovered a pile of criminal evidence - on corruption and money laundering - against Zuma. By the end of 2008 the counts were more than 700.

Interestingly, when he was confronted with the allegations Zuma reacted with fury and contempt for his colleagues.

Though he blamed his troubles on a political conspiracy hatched by his political adversaries he, importantly, never dismissed the criminal evidence as concocted facts.

But he gradually began to marshal his troops, largely made up of people who were equally out of favour with the administration who had become critical of his transgressions.

Immediately after the NPA laid charges against Schabir Shaik in August 2003, in a matter that clearly spelt out the case the state could have against Zuma, Parliament's ANC-dominated ethics committee under the leadership of Llewellyn Landers moved quickly to cover up his failure to declare.

A fictitious document with the "hallmarks of an ex post facto invention", as Judge Hilary Squires put it in June 2005, was used by the parliamentary committee to squash an investigation against Zuma.

Unsurprisingly, though a complaint was laid by a former DA MP Douglas Gibson with the registrar of members' Interests in parliament in June 2005, this was ignored, even after Zuma returned to Parliament in April 2009.

Furthermore, even if Zuma's fake document were to be accepted as genuine for the purpose of this argument, his purported declaration and submission therefore means he had no problem with the interests disclosure laws at the time. If so, why now? What has subsequently changed in this law that suddenly requires a legal opinion? He is, arguably, in the same office.

What's more, Zuma was successfully shielded from tax evasion charges by a reluctant South African Revenue Service even when the NPA subsequently pursued the charges against him.

Among the pieces of evidence uncovered by the Scorpions was that Zuma, like ANCYL leader Julius Malema now, had not submitted his tax returns for a couple of years while he was the MEC for economic affairs in KwaZulu-Natal.

Again, the president and his ANC majority employed the public protector's office and Parliament to launch a veiled attack on the NPA.

Though Parliament endorsed Lawrence Mushwana's pointless report, the failed intention was to exonerate Zuma of any wrongdoing.

Worrying signs also became apparent at his rape trial when it became evident during the proceedings that the investigating officer might have done a hatchet job at the crime scene that might have compromised the credibility of some of the evidence.

The declaration by the investigating officer that he was an ardent Zuma fan could not have demonstrated confidence in the criminal justice process.

In addition, in one of the most controversial court decisions of our time, the independence and credibility of the bench was dealt a serious blow when Judge Chris Nicholson ruled in Zuma's favour under circumstances that left most of the country's legal eagles mortified.

When the NPA won the case on appeal, vexing questions emerged about the motives of the decision of Judge Nicholson.

Worse still, with the withdrawal of the fraud and corruption charges by former acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe, based on a discredited Japanese judgment that had already been overturned on appeal, many political and legal observers noted that the decision was the political intervention Zuma had been pursuing all along.

An honest look into the issues that have besieged the ruling party and, by extension the country, over the past decade will reveal that they all have to do with the personal indiscretion of the person of the president.

He has single-handedly delivered a chunk of the ANC to a group of vultures that have mercilessly laid assault on the moral fibre of his organisation.

It is all these dubious interventions that have gradually imparted a sense of disrespect for the institutions of the state and sheer contempt for the nation.

There have not been any consequences for his actions. In turn, Zuma has never placed any premium on his honesty - because he has never had to tell the truth. Every time he has been caught out - his lieutenants have desperately come to his rescue.

It may not be too late for the president to take note of the good counsel from another American politician, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, when he said: "Son, always tell the truth. Then you will never have to remember what you said the last time."

l The writer is a former spokesperson of the NPA and Cope. He writes in his personal capacity.


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