Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-10-07 Reporter: Kevin Wakeford

Media Leaks Convict Zuma Without Trial



Business Day

Date 2004-10-07


Kevin Wakeford

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Letter Correspondent

The Business Day editorial of October 5 argues that we should suspend our judgment concerning Deputy President Jacob Zuma. This is probably one of the more balanced comments from the media, yet the editorial still casts doubt on the actions of the deputy president, and so the objectives of the power freaks who wish to unseat him are legitimised. The entire Zuma fiasco has received unwarranted attention. Nowhere else in the world has a person of such stature and honour been victimised by the press and his foes for purposes of political derailment.

It is my sincere belief that the deputy president is innocent, and that the untested allegations against him are concocted rubbish intended to raise questions about his character and ethics. He has been tried in the media for the past three years, yet not a single charge has been made against him. In fact, the previous justice minister and the national director of public prosecutions withdrew their investigation against him .

Why is it, then, that certain interests persist with regular leaks to the press? The most recent "revelations" in the Sunday press reveal nothing new; they merely represent old and re-engineered information and speculation.

The central theme in this entire episode of political stealth and skullduggery is the fact that Zuma has never been afforded the right to defend himself in court . The strategy of the cowards attempting to manoeuvre his downfall is to maintain a high frequency of deceptive media reporting on the allegations against him. It is far easier to crucify somebody in the media than in court , particularly when there is no base to the case against him . In fact, Zuma was a KwaZulu-Natal MEC during the arms deal, with no influence over the process.

The deputy president has conducted himself with dignity during this entire fiasco. He has continued to represent SA in conflict-ridden parts of the continent and at home, with a humble heart and sought-after statesmanship.

It is clear that he understands the concept of public service far better than the megalomaniacs who salivate for the opportunity to exploit the power of the post he so ably manages.

Even I, at times, wish he would lash out and crush the people who so recklessly pursue the ends of power for purposes of self-aggrandisement. But he has confidently risen above the games of small people and constantly reminds the public that the rule of law remains paramount in all circumstances, no matter how trying they are.

It is interesting that the ongoing attacks in the press emanate predominately from certain elements in the media. It would also be very interesting to find out who leaked the KPMG forensic report to the Sunday Times.

I would contend that "all roads lead to Rome". These malicious and spurious tactics have been used successfully against other prominent political leaders, including Winnie Mandela and Tony Yengeni. Others have also been targeted recently by similar means. The common denominator in these onslaughts is the level of popular following these leaders command.

However, in the case of the deputy president they have not been able to criminalise him on some marginal technicality, so they persist with attempts to discredit his good name with selective leaks of half-truths to the media. It has become abundantly clear to all that he has grown in political stature during this trying time. In fact, this has galvanised his support across the entire spectrum of the ANC. Paradoxically, he has won increased support from an aggravated rank-and-file membership who have lost patience with certain elements in the media and who are beginning to see through this lunacy.

The supporters of the ANC are well aware who their leaders are and which of them has gone through the fire and stood the test of time. Jumping the queue in the leadership stakes isn't going to happen. The elements in our society that are attempting to destabilise SA's deputy president for their own interests are doing our leaders, and our nation, a grave disservice. Zuma will triumph. Time will tell.

Wakeford is MD of Growth Africa

With acknowledgements to Kevin Wakeford and Business Day.