Monday, April 6, 2009

An historic day...

At 11am today the entire newsroom came to a halt. We gathered around the TV and watched as Mokotedi Mpshe made the long-awaited announcement about the future prospects (or rather the scrapping) of the prosecution of one Jacob "Bring Me My Machine Gun" Zuma.
It was completely expected, momentous, historic, gut-wrenching, confusing, boring, entertaining and nauseating all at the same time. The press release arrived on e-mail just as the announcement began, so we got to read along with Mpshe and also had privy to transcripts of all the recordings that he didn't read out loud. Yes, things were indeed grim. It did look like there was evidence of political meddling in a criminal prosecution. And so he was abandoning the eight-year-long battle to put our dancing presidential hopeful behind bars. Just like that!
But it did not make sense to me. I can understand that political interference can be seen as a reason to cast doubt on the motives of the prosecutors. But surely a decision to throw the Zuma case out can itself be viewed as a political move? So why oh why then, did Mpshe not place the matter before the courts for a decision? Why did he make the call on his own, completely scuppering any future possibilities of taking the Zuma corruption case to court?
I hoped the press conference would clear this up. But no such luck. The questions went sort of like this:
Q: How much taxpayer money has been spent on this case so far?
A: Er ... ummm..... ("gosh I have been caught off guard by this totally cunning question" moment worthy of an Oscar) we don't have that figure at hand right now (of course!). But it's a lot. (Duhhhh!!)
Q: I feel so sorry for Mr Zuma. He has always claimed he is innocent. Now you have robbed him of the chance to clear his name, and he will now have to live out the rest of his life with a cloud of suspicion over his head. How do you think he feels?
A: Mr Zuma's lawyers brought the tapes (obviously obtained by highly questionable means) to us. So I think he can live happily under that cloud.
Q: When will you officially withdraw the prosecution in court?
A: Obviously you are asking if it will be before or after the election. And that is a political matter. We don't deal with politics. (nicely dodged)
Q: Why did you not let the courts decide this matter.
A: Because....
The country marked the occasion in various ways. Some people were deeply disappointed. Some were hysterically happy. Crowds marched through town prompting the closure of many streets and a massive traffic jam which clogged the entire CBD for hours.
And that was the end of that....


  1. He looks more and more like a toad to me... I'm not happy about their decision, but not suprised.

  2. Obviously its not what you did that matters but who you know.