Publication: Post Issued: Date: 2004-10-06 Reporter:

'Zumagate' Will Clear Corruption Accusations




Date 2004-10-06


Comment & Opinion

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Perhaps the most important trial since the beginning of democracy in 1994 will unfold in the Durban High Court on Monday when Schabir Shaik goes on trial for various charges relating to corruption.

As in the spying allegations against former Scorpions Director Bulelani Ngcuka, when retired judge Justice Hefer was called to preside, similarly in this case, Justice Hillary Squires, an 80-year-old retired judge, has been recalled from retirement to unravel the tangled web of intrigue the Shaik affair has become.

The tenacity with which the Scorpions pursued this matter is a credit to clean government. It is most important that our democracy does not slide down the slippery slope of bribery and corruption. Clean administration must not be compromised by people holding positions of influence in the government, nor by party apparatchiks.

Deputy president Jacob Zuma, drawn heavily into the Shaik saga, is a likeable person with excellent struggle credentials. But while our struggle heroes were highly skilled in bushcraft, they were apparently not as skilled in the acumen of the marketplace. Managing finances requires a streetwise wisdom of the ways of this world.

It is not Zuma who will be going on trial but Shaik. Whatever the outcome, this trial will come to be known as "Zumagate" because it is the popular Zuma who will be on trial in the public mind - by tacit and specific allusion and inference, by implication and innuendo.

There will certainly be post-trial fall-out, as much as there was after the Hefer Commission into the spying allegations against Ngcuka. Struggle heroes Mac Maharaj and Mo Shaik, and Vusi Mona, former City Press editor, had their credibility badly shaken.

Scorpions head Ngcuka resigned after the Public Protector found in favour of Zuma, who had lodged a complaint that Ngcuka had impugned his reputation by stating publicly he had prima facie evidence of corruption against Zuma but would not prosecute because the case would be "unwinnable".

And so the crucial Schabir trial will, hopefully, get under way on Monday with about 100 witnesses, many of them prominent in politics, and business, as possible State witnesses.

The drama could reach many households and offices if e.TV succeeds in its application to broadcast, but be that as it may, let's hope the ultimate outcome will be to advance the cause of clean administration in the interest of all taxpayers.

With acknowledgement to the Post.