Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has gone to court to ask that accusations that he is a “corrupt crook” and his government “extremely corrupt” be removed because they are simply defamatory, insulting and tarnish his administration’s image.
In his response to Hugh Glenister’s Constitutional Court appeal against parts of a December Western Cape High Court judgment ordering Glenister to pay former police minister Nathi Mthethwa’s legal costs, Zuma says the businessman made a vitriolic, defamatory and vexatious personal attack on him and the ANC government.
Glenister says the costs order against him is ill-considered and wants Mthethwa’s strike-out application dismissed because he did not act in bad faith. The president also wants Glenister’s case dismissed as it is misconceived and vexatious.
Zuma supports the order striking out various passages from Glenister’s affidavits and reports attached on the basis that they are scandalous, vexatious or irrelevant.
Zuma says Glenister invokes “many paragraphs and hundreds of pages tarnishing the present government and numerous individuals in it as corrupt”.
According to the president, Glenister’s submission is “wholly irrelevant and simply defamatory”.
Zuma says there is no need for Glenister to upset him by making scurrilous accusations that could not feasibly advance his court case.
“It is not clear what Glenister considered the appropriate response of the ANC government and the presidency was to answer to the wide range, general accusations of corruption,” complains Zuma.
Zuma says Judge Siraj Desai’s judgment is justified and also wants the order striking out parts of Glenister’s high court submission upheld. Glenister’s submission includes a report by director of the Stellenbosch University’s anti-corruption centre for education and research Professor Gavin Woods and an affidavit by Institute for Security Studies’ governance, crime and justice division head Gareth Newham.
According to Judge Desai’s judgment, Glenister’s high court case illustrated the current levels of corruption in South Africa and targeted Zuma, Mthethwa, the SAPS and Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat, head of the Hawks, as all being corrupt.
Zuma says Glenister justifies his vexatious attacks on persons and government by that the facts contained in the Woods’ report and Newham’s affidavit demonstrated the great need for the Hawks’ almost absolute independence.
Glenister describes Woods and Newham’s submissions as “uncontroverted affidavits and associated evidence”.
Judge Desai declared various sections of chapter six of the SA Police Service Amendment Act of 2012 inconsistent with the constitution, invalid as they failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the Hawks and sent them to the country’s highest court for confirmation.
Quoting the Constitutional Court’s 1999 judgment dismissing the New National Party’s challenging of the constitutionality of some provisions of legislation prescribing documents voters must possess to register and vote, Zuma says “a statute cannot have limping validity, valid one day, invalid the next, depending upon changing circumstances”.
He asks: “For example, if the DA was the ruling party, was chapter 6A constitutional?”
Zuma suggests that public perception is not testimonies of individuals. Instead, “members of the public will give their answer at the ballot box”.
In his response to Zuma’s heads of argument, Glenister says the president did not submit anything to gainsay or contradict the allegations Zuma describes as false, scandalous, vexatious or irrelevant.
Glenister says Zuma “apart from bald denials, chose not to deal with the impugned allegations” and that the president is not in any way prejudiced by the allegations.
He says the background history and the independence, past performance and integrity of the executive, police minister and national commissioner Riah Phiyega are all relevant.
At the high court, Judge Desai agreed with Zuma that Woods’ report and Newham’s affidavit constitute irrelevant, scandalous and vexatious matter and/or hearsay and that Zuma’s objection was well founded. Some of Glenister’s claims at the high court include that then deputy justice minister Johnny de Lange conceded that South Africa’s criminal justice system was dysfunctional, that a “well known and well respected scenario planner” Clem Sunter revised his future predictions for South Africa and concluded that there was a chance that the country would become a failed state and Corruption Watch’s David Lewis found that the police form the most corrupt institution in the country.
Others include that the last three national police commissioners have all been “loyal deployees” of the ruling party, which is “illegal and unconstitutional”, and that the ANC’s website reflects that its goal is the “hegemonic control of all of the levers of power in society”.
Glenister also told the high court that the Hawks are corrupt and inefficient, constitutionally under the control of a minister (Mthethwa (who is himself compromised) serving in a cabinet that “is not without its own challenges when it comes to issues of corruption and corruptibility”.
The businessman also described Dramat as “another employed cadre” of the ruling party and that his track record “is not unblemished”.
Judge Desai found that Glenister made sweeping allegations based on unverified opinion and severely prejudiced Mthethwa in the conduct of his case.
Zuma believes Glenister’s insistence that the Hawks must have no executive control is based on incorrect literalism and that the businessman is wedded to the notion of the unit being outside the SAPS.
Dramat and National Director of Public Prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana are also listed as respondents in the matter but both are not opposing it and will abide the court’s decision.
The matter will be heard on August 19, with another brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation.