Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zuma’s armed crew

What is it with this Jacob Zuma chap?

As far we can tell he is a citizen who has had brushes with the law and appears to be able to work magic with the SA Revenue Service.

Granted, as a former Deputy President he is entitled to state services. However it is understood that this allows for a driver and a bodyguard and perhaps secretarial services.

But he chases around the country and the world surrounded by an army of bodyguards, chauffeured in convoys driven by thuggish blue light flashers while threatening rifle bearers poke their weapons out of their windows of his accompanying armada at innocent motorists and passersby.

One of his cavalcades hurtling down the road at 180km/h or three times the speed limit, was estimated to be as a long as a kilometre Aside from the fact that the law is being treated with contempt, who pays for all this?

If it is required that one be merely the head of a political party – and that is what the ANC is, no more and no less – to enjoy the state’s largesse then why don’t the likes of Sam Shilowa and Terror Lekota receive similar attention, although I notice the latter does have a couple of goons following him around.

And how about those party leaders who actually have representation in Parliament such as Helen Zille and Pieter Mulder and Mangosutho Buthelezi?

And who, one might ask, picked up the tab for Zuma to visit Washington and other world centres recently? All the evidence is that, again, he travels with a pack, some to carry his luggage, others to guard his life, some to chauffeur him, someone to settle the hotel bill and so on.

He is comported as a head of state. But he is not a head of state. He is a party politician.

Believe me, when Barack Obama was running for the Democratic nomination his expenses were not picked up by US taxpayers. Now perhaps it is the ANC itself which picks up all these costs, exploding as they do as the runt – sorry, the rand – tanks.

Given that party’s nefarious forays into state subsidised ventures with the certainty of ample and risk-free reward it would not be surprising to learn that it can well afford to support Comrade Zuma in the manner to which he wishes to become accustomed.

What we do know about his tangled financial affairs is that he has somehow arrived at a deal with the tax authorities. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall.

We also know the state has thus far laid out the tidy sum of R9 676 176 towards his defence in his fraud matter. It appears the last of these funds was tendered to his attorneys in 2006.

They have continued to represent him since then but, strangely, the state has not received any claims from them, which is extremely odd in the case of lawyers.

According to the Department of Justice “in the event of a conviction in the case, the funds extended on the legal representation will be recovered from the accused”.

But Zuma is a man of straw.

All evidence is that his financial acumen is up there with his grasp of virology. Further, it is surely reckless for the state to pay out fees without security on behalf of an accused on the basis that if convicted the accused will repay an amount that could be, say, R20 million, when the state must know that this individual just does not have those resources.

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