The National Association of Democratic Lawyers ("NADEL") has observed the saga surrounding the news of the alleged imminent arrest of the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, by the Hawks. Various civil society groups have expressed outrage at what they have labelled “Hawk’s attack on Gordhan and his Former SARS colleagues”. They allege that the charges are not only baseless but the manner in which they have been pursued is clearly calculated to besmirch the names of individuals and has predictably already seriously impaired our national economy. Some political analysts are reported to have said that these events are part of the political endgame by President Zuma.
There are two pertinent issues arising out of this saga that can’t remain unattended. Firstly, the alleged use of state agencies in resolving political matters and secondly the perceptions that certain people or officials in government should be above the law and that our law must yield to manipulations by powerful economic powers.
The narrative by some civil societies that certain individuals cannot and should not be prosecuted and or investigated because of the roles they play in society and/or because of markets dictates cannot be accepted and is rejected with the contempt that it deserves. Such a narrative presents a threat to our constitutional democracy and the rule of law. The only question, in this matter, to be asked by all of us is, is there a case that the Minister needs to answer to? We remind civil society of its role in upholding the constitution and the values enshrined therein. A perpetuation of the idea that certain individuals are above the law, for whatever reason, is an injustice that this country cannot afford.
There have been reports circulating in the media talking of a government in war with itself, stating that State agencies are being used in resolving political matters. We deliberately refrain from commenting on the merits of these allegations in respect of the present case but move to warn of the dangers of such abuse, should the allegations be correct. The use of State agencies to fight political wars amounts to an abuse of political power, it undermines the very reasons for the existence the said agencies and is a serious threat to constitutional democracy, service delivery and justice. The weakening of any state agency undermines the power of our constitutional democracy and creates levels of inequality amongst the arms of government that result in the abuse of power. It is for those very reasons that we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the use of state agencies in fighting political wars.
Ultimately we look to the judiciary to keep the balance, but the wheels of justice can take too long to move to finality, as in this case. As a result, the potential damage that can be caused by any abuse is great, in that the workers and the poor are the first victims. The rich and comfortable can afford the economical effects of the dragging out of this matters but not the poor.
The bottom line is that all of this controversy could have been dealt with in a better way for our country if we had solid and responsible leadership, committed to eliminating financial losses and removal of people who are financially ruining organs of State, through irregular and corrupt means.
We request the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority to perform their duties and finalise this matter expeditiously, in the utmost of good faith and to be driven only by legal facts and not political interference (as it has been suggested by many). If they have a prima-facie case against the Minister he must be charged, the law must take its course.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA.
By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910
03 September 2016