WHAT do we do? What do we do and say about our president’s frightening depiction of corruption? How do we go on,  move forward, knowing that the one crime that has held many nations back is regarded by the head of state as a trivial transaction of no consequence?

Do we even bother to expend energy on someone who is so out of touch and who continuously demonstrates his complete  total disregard for good governance and,  by extension, constitutionalism?

But we must react. Even though it will go over his head, we must react. Because he is the president!

Every time Jacob Zuma reads about corruption — from a prepared speech of course —  many of us roll our eyes,  because we know there is no fervour or and heart in his pronouncements. 

We have long suspected that he does not mean it.  Now it seems we have been proved right.  It now seems we have been proven right. Zuma and his lawyers have worked tirelessly to keep certain information from the public. They succeeded for close to a decade but now, as so often happens, the truth is slowly trickling out.

When motivating In their motivation for corruption charges against Jacob Zuma to be dropped, the president’s his lawyers wrote to the National Prosecuting Authority, arguing that corruption was a “Western paradigm”, and even if it was a crime, there were it’s a crime where there are ‘“no victims”.

He was not the president at the time, but the stage was set for Zuma to take the job. This means he rose to that position with a rather disconcerting grasp of the meaning of corruption.

He probably believes a bribe is a gift. He does not see that there is a serious problem when favours and patronage are exchanged for “gifts”.

It is preposterous to think that, as Zuma traverses the length and breadth of South Africa, that he does not see the link between the poverty in which millions live, continued depravity of millions of citizens and corruption. 

Under his government, a ministry of small businesses was established.  It has long been accepted that small businesses will be the new drivers of our economic growth.  Yet many of them are unable to secure business opportunities because that privilege has been extended to friends and relatives of those in government.  The president is blind to that.

When the auditor-general releases jaw-dropping figures about money wasted through corruption, the president does not see how that affects impacts on service delivery. 

He probably believes a bribe is a gift. He does not see that there is a serious problem when favours and patronage are exchanged for “gifts”.

How interesting that the presidency and Luthuli House have nothing to say about the president’s frivolous interpretation of this crime that threatens to choke our society.  But if they ever do find a moment to address the matter, perhaps they could remind the president that, long before this saga, he had sworn several times to uphold the constitution — as an MEC and as deputy president. 

The constitution sets out the legal foundation of for our republic and provides for the rights and duties of all citizens.  Does Zuma not know about the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004? Has he heard of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 105 or of 1997, which imposes stiff penalties for corruption?

These statutes were passed by our legislature precisely because our constitution recognises that corruption is a crime from which our country and its citizens need to be protected.  But not our president:  he thinks he is merely being picked on.

If it were true that corruption is a Western concept, without any victims, then I wonder why Zuma has not publicly stated this but rather chosen to hide it in secret documents. If he is correct, he ought to be bold about his assertions and initiate an official challenge to our anti-corruption laws.

But that will not happen.

Instead, we shall carry on with our lives as South Africans, being led by a head of state whose intrinsic values are the absolute antithesis of our constitution.

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