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ANCYL Constitution: as amended and adopted by the 25th National Congress September 2015
Hlomelang: Vol. 13 No. 1: 25 July – 07 August 2016
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When is the Rule of Law Rule of Law?

23 March 2006

Our memories must be very short to have forgotten the hullabaloo created by others around our criticism of Justice Hilary Squires in the infamous Shabir Shaik corruption trial wherein the Judge passed the equally infamous judgement and pronouncing a finding that Shabir Shaik had a corrupt relationship with Jacob Zuma. This was despite the fact that Zuma was never afforded an opportunity to defend himself in this trial.

It is a rather strange twist of irony that today, there are people including the Human Rights Commission who pulled no punches in disparaging us when we criticised Justice Squires. These are the very people who are now leading the onslaught against principle and are shamelessly trampling on the very rule of law they purport to be advocating. They have no shame to engage in public debate on the merits and demerits of the Zuma rape trial even before the presiding Judge has pronounced himself on the matters before him. Is this justice? We think not. This prostitution of justice has also taken the form of public attacks on the very Judge presiding on the matter because he allowed the defence to cross examine the complainant on her sexual history, despite the assurance from the judge that he will explain his reasons for allowing this cross examination at the end of the trial.

Notwithstanding, the very concept of the rule of law requires us to respect and uphold the sub judice rule. The particular significance of this is that it reinforces the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and dissuades society from second guessing and indeed exerting undue influence on the judiciary on a matter under consideration. This is particularly important on a criminal matter such as the one before the Johannesburg High Court.

These naysayers who are determined to find Zuma guilty at whatever cost have conveniently forgotten what this sub judice rule is and have therefore proclaimed themselves to be disaffected by it, thereby above the law. They have found a convenient scapegoat in Zuma supporters who have braved the elements and stood firm behind their leader. The projection of the Zuma supporters as unruly hooligans who do not understand principle betrays the duplicity of these naysayers. They conveniently turn a blind eye to the insults heaped at the ANC Deputy President by those who claim to support the complainant, and therefore expect of us to tolerate their conduct because insults directed at Zuma are acceptable in their book. What kind of justice is that?

Some have had the audacity to suggest that Zuma must speak out against the actions of his supporters that are supposedly carried out in his name. He is conveniently the fall guy for the actions of others who happen to voice and demonstrate their support for him. Indeed, it has become abundandly clear that whatever Zuma says will have no effect to those who have already written and read out his obituary. These hypocrites, who claim to be custodians of our nation’s morality and value system have not hesitated to denounce, insult and pass judgement on Zuma outside the due processes of the law. If these are the people entrusted with upholding our value system and by extension the human rights culture and the administration of justice such that there is fairness in the execution of the law, then we must be very afraid.

In the light of the developments in recent months, it has become abundantly clear that the anti-Zuma lobby is driven by an overt political agenda that seeks to destroy Zuma, whatever their motivations are. Their deliberate conflation of issues which result in the succession debate becoming part of the issues related to this trial, exposes this political agenda. We have to ask the question. Is there a hidden hand that rocks the cradle? As developments unfold in the coming weeks and months, that question will be answered. This same lobby is unashamedly imposing its will and its skewed sense of morality upon the rest of society, and expect us to sit idle and accept their version of morality.

The details of the matters relating to this trial remain before the courts and we will therefore not pronounce ourselves on the merits and demerits of the case before the court has pronounced itself, as dictated by the sub judice rule. We similarly call upon those who believe this rule does not apply to them to show respect for the judiciary and by extension the rule of law, lest they themselves be hauled before the very courts for contempt of court.

We must therefore ask the question: When is the rule of law rule of law?

Fikile Mbalula
President: ANC Youth League