Monday, December 15, 2003

Bulelani Ngcuka is considering resigning from his post as head of the National Prosecuting Authority according to theSABC.

This is news indeed. If he does resign, then Mac Maharaj and Mo Schaik will undoubtedly feel some vindication for all their efforts to slander his reputation. This makes me wonder, again, what's really going on behind the scenes here. Ngcuka investigates the Deputy President (and others) for corruption relating to the arms deal. He appears to have a prima facie case but lacks evidence to make the charges stick. Rumours then emerge that Ngcuka was an apartheid era spy. These rumours are given some substance when Maharaj and Schaik (both of whom were under investigation) claim to evidence that Ngcuka was a spy. The president authorises a commission to investigate, which reveals that Maharaj and Schaik had no basis for their claims and acted on little more than hear say. Ngcuka appears to be vindicated and we all look forward to him returning to his job and carrying on with his investigations. Then stories start filtering out that he might be about to resign. So, what gives?

One of the problems with this whole sorry saga is that it has damaged some of my faith in the transparency and openness of South African's govt. Obviously things would have been worse if the ANC had attempted a cover-up but as it stands I can't help but get the feeling that there is more to this entire case than meets the eye. Rumours persist that this is part of some grand strategy by Mbeki to discredit Jacob Zuma whom he doesn't feel has what is required to be the next president. Then there is is the theory that Ngcuka really was onto something big with his investigation and that, rather than let him potentially destroy the upper echelons of the ANC, it was decided to do something to either distract attention or to discredit him. These sorts of conspiracy theories are pretty unseemly but there is so much about this mess that doesn't add up. Why did Maharj and Schaik make the claims when, as the Hefer commission has shown, they had almost no evidence to back them up? Why, if there was doubt about Ngcuka's past (and it appears, from the commission, that stories have been circulating about him for a while), was he appointed head of the National Prosecuting Authority without some sort of prior background check? Why has the President been so reluctant to widen the mandate of the commission to include the Deputy President? Zuma himself claimed, at one point, that he wanted to be investigated so as to have the opportunity to prove his innocence. Most people seem to have forgotten that when the Ngcuka spy claims initially surfaced, Zuma appeared to back them up. Now, it appears that he can't distance himself from the commission fast enough.

The problem is that the Hefer commission, far from answering all our questions, has really just whetted our appetites....

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