A Zuma story: We’re a country of laws, not strongmen

Johannesburg – Victimisation is the folly of former president Jacob Zuma’s imagined universe, and the events of February 1 and all that surround them are evidence of this fact.

By defying a constitution he once swore to uphold underlies what a moral swindler Polokwane and Mangaung begot the nation.

A nation he is willing to tear down for his survival and those who follow him like an unhinged cult leader. To shy away from accountability would seemingly be the antithesis of the Zuma construct.

Zuma created this very dangerous complex for himself and his acolytes who believe that undermining the constitutional order for their narrow selfish ends is the norm.

The Nkandla fellow is clearly an egotistical and vain person.

Zuma and his lieutenant, Ace Magashule, unfortunately prove what most of South Africans have come to realise; that the ANC is an inward-looking entity, absorbed by its own grandeur.

South Africa is entering a period of immense danger in which this self-serving former president’s ruthlessness could lead to almost anything.

Consitution cartoon

The government and law-enforcement agencies will have to stand strong against whatever he unleashes.

This young democracy cannot afford to acquiesce to people who do not hold themselves accountable.

Zuma’s misbehaviour also serves as a timely reminder that our constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document.

It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. A story is often told by the Yankees of how at the close of the Constitutional Convention on September 17 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “What kind of government have you given us, Dr Franklin?” He replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Closer to home, the country’s favourite son Nelson Mandela was emphatic in his address at the inauguration of the Constitutional Court, on February 14 1995. “People come and go.

Customs, fashions and preferences change.

Yet the web of fundamental rights and justice which a nation proclaims must not be broken,” he said. Mandela understood he had to follow the rules, even when they hurt. Zuma, on the other hand, is a law unto himself.

South Africa is our republic and we can keep it only if the rule of law holds. No one man, freedom fighter or knight can break our constitution. We are a country of laws, not strongmen.

The rule of law, defended by an independent judiciary, plays a crucial function by ensuring that civil and political rights and civil liberties are safe. This is what is at stake should the state blink at the provocation of a former head of state who has no regard for the rule of law.

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