Unless I’m very much mistaken, every morning the senior leadership members of the ANC are requested to remove their shoes in order to inspect their feet and thereby avoid putting a bullet in the same foot as they did the day before. And every day almost like clockwork the sounds of gunshots ring out from Luthuli House as they proceed to plug the other foot leaving themselves hopping mad.
Indeed, if the Zanu-PF has loosed an epidemic of cholera and anthrax on their population, our lot has the worst case of Foot-and-Mouth disease in history whereby the only time they open their mouths is to change feet.
Let’s use the Zuma versus Zapiro as a classic example. If President Motlanthe stretched his neck out of joint in order to waive away the clamour for an arms deal probe then why would the ANC president Jacob Zuma offer an easy ride via a civil suit back door?
We have been informed that Zuma’s attorneys have been instructed to demand R7- million from Zapiro for the damages suffered as a result of the infamous/famous “Rape of the criminal justice system cartoon”, failing which a summons will be issued. You can access it by popping across to Zapiro through clicking on the Mail & Guardian above and working your way through the section on Zapiro.
The first thing that many (not all) attorneys point out in defamation cases is that the way to increase your damages exponentially is to sue the party making the statement (drawing the cartoon). In this case we have seen all the hullaballoo hit the fan, then calm down, only to be reignited by the Zuma camp.
I’m not sure if anyone who made the analysis before relighting this fuse checked the prevailing winds on corruption and the ANC but the sentiment appears to be simmering hostility. Many people believe that the criminal justice system is being abused by politicians and failure to take heed of Ginwala and Khampepe is seen as proof of the total disregard the executive has for the criminal justice system, the judiciary and beyond.
So into that storm, the hurricane concerning the cartoon having blown over, and coming soon to a court near you, they bring back the whole sordid mess about Zuma and Zapiro?
Jacob Zuma and Zapiro’s depiction of his purported rape of the criminal justice system.
Not only resuscitate it but peg it to the wall of our civil courts because, every time a pleading is served or anything remotely connected to this civil suit happens, a wall of newspaper print is going to come flooding down on the South African public. Including a copy of the cartoon under debate.
So moving towards election 2009 we can look forward to the Zuma criminal trial being played out in the media and then of course the civil trial about a cartoon, which is going to be shown with every article printed on the subject (thousands?). The ANC who are depicted as purportedly assisting Zuma and Zuma getting all the negative publicity worldwide that their opponents could possibly want and Zapiro, who last time I checked wasn’t running for office, totally unfazed by it all.
As I said: how do you make defamation exponentially larger?
Sue the other party.
Unfortunately that is the smaller problem.
In order to defend himself Zapiro is going to claim fair comment or truth and public benefit relating to Zuma and the ANC’s purported involvement in corruption. Once Zapiro has filed his plea to the summons and pleadings close his attorneys are going to call for “discovery” of all documents that are relevant to this case.
I’m sure that even a first year law student would understand that relevant in this case means anything to do with the ANC or Zuma purportedly trying to manipulate the criminal justice system, which covers inter alia the arms deal and anything else in respect of which Zuma or the ANC are being accused of. In other words, while we are waiting for the trial and seeing pictures of this cartoon on a daily basis, we will be treated to stories about the ANC claiming privilege and interests of national security relating to documents, which you can bet will be named in the media in order not to discover them.
Of course it will then be up to the judge and counsel to argue about whether all these documents are relevant or privileged in the High Court while the media feast on this arms deal probe by proxy.
The damage to the ANC and Zuma by this stage, both locally and internationally, will be like the Zimbabwean inflation rate – no longer worth calculating.
Just one question?
When you shoot yourselves in the foot like this, do you use a small calibre handgun?
Rather use a shotgun leaving stumps – that way you’ll have to hobble along giving you time to think before you nuke the other foot.