Forget about Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget. Sure, it was balanced, sober and even inspiring. But it has no political backing from the president and his various supporters, which means it is being trashed even before it is debated by parliament.
One of the president’s most vociferous backers, ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine, told league members in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend: “The budget speech attitude and that of the state of the nation address towards monopoly capital reflect two separate governments from two ideologically opposed parties.”
He said Gordhan was an “impimpi” (spy or sellout) for so-called white monopoly capital and something should be done to him as used to happen to impimpis in the past.
During apartheid, alleged spies were “necklaced” – a tyre doused with petrol would be placed around a person’s neck and set alight, killing them slowly, and barbarically.
So this is the ANC, calling for its own members and ministers to be necklaced, in a free country.
It is not just scary – it reflects the rot which now sits at the heart of the ANC.
It is not fit to be spoken of in the same breath as Nelson Mandela or Albert Luthuli.
But, as I said, forget about Gordhan’s excellent speech or Maine’s horrific, Hitler-esque words.
For me, the story of the week was the ruling by the high court in Pretoria that the government’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was unconstitutional and invalid.
Deputy Judge-President Phineas Mojapelo said President Jacob Zuma and the ministers of justice and international relations were ordered to revoke the notice of withdrawal from the international body.
“There is prematurity and procedural irrationality in the notice to withdraw from the Rome Statute by [the] executive without parliamentary approval,” Mojapelo said.
Let me put that in plain English – Zuma, his International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as well as Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha ignored the law, rushed through the notice and essentially behaved as though the constitution – the supreme law of the land – did not exist.
They do not care for what it says, and that is illustrated in the way they have acted throughout this sorry saga.
You will remember the decision to withdraw from the ICC followed several court judgments that the state violated the law by not arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir‚ who has been indicted by the same ICC‚ during his visit to South Africa in June 2015.
The Zuma administration at the time defied a high court order to arrest the man accused of murdering 300 000 of his fellow black Africans.
Indeed, the state helped smuggle him out of the country. It chose a criminal over his victims. It broke the law.
The high court decision last week underlines what EFF MP and spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said at the beginning of the state of the nation speech when he entreated Zuma to vacate the house.
He said: “Mr Zuma, please leave Baba, please leave. You don’t belong here. You are a constitutional delinquent.
“Zuma is a delinquent. He breached the constitution.”
Before Ndlozi had spoken COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota had also pointed to Zuma’s disrespect for the constitution: “We pointed out in the last state of the nation address that the gentleman before you has broken his oath of office.”
EFF leader Julius Malema was even more scathing: “Sitting in front of us here, is a man who is incorrigible, an incorrigible man rotten to the core.
“And that has been found by the Constitutional Court.”
They are all right, and they are right because again and again Zuma and his ministers waste taxpayers’ money fighting useless constitutional battles that even a Grade 1 pupil can see are unwinnable.
Yet Zuma and his ministers do it. Just think of the Nkandla matter – it was patently obvious from the beginning Zuma would get a bloody nose.
A woman or man of conscience would immediately have realised that the case was going nowhere.
Not Zuma. He fought and fought. And lost.
The Constitutional Court found “the president failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution”.
He continues to do so, as illustrated by his nonchalance at bringing the army to parliament and the decision of the high court last week.
The trend shows an administration that has no respect for the constitution. In its actions it has gone out of its way to disrespect, ignore and even violate the constitution.
This administration seems to have lost all sight of the fact that this is the supreme law of the land.
To Zuma and his cronies it should be torn up and discarded and they should be allowed to do as they please.
This is what their actions say to us. These are dangerous times indeed. The state and its leader have gone rogue.