Johannesburg - Former prosecutions chief Vusi Pikoli is angry that the ANC never charged President Jacob Zuma for sleeping with the daughter of his comrade, notwithstanding his acquittal of rape.
Pikoli has opened up about this for the first time in My Second Initiation, his memoir written with award-winning journalist Mandy Wiener.
“This was an illustration of the moral degeneration we face and I couldn’t understand why the ANC never charged the man internally for misconduct. I felt he had brought the ANC into disrepute by admitting to having sexual intercourse with her, not using a condom.
“At (a) political level, that required decisive action on the part of the organisation,” he wrote.
Pikoli, who was the national director of public prosecutions at the time, said even though he accepted the court’s ruling to acquit him of rape, “to me what is more important is the moral question that arose”.
“Here you have a leader of an organisation who is married and yet sleeps with the child of a comrade he knows very well. Even if the woman was being provocative, it cannot possibly be right – this is a child you saw growing up in front of your own eyes,” Pikoli said.
“And yet, instead of supporting the complainant, the ANC turned her into a pariah. I was disgusted by the behaviour of the ANC Women’s League…”
“Somebody should stand up and say, ‘Not in our name.’ I am saying that now.”
And, despite the inquiry into the arms deal that is under way, Pikoli believes South Africa will never get to the bottom of what happened, because “there is no political will to do so”.
Zuma, he says, should have been charged for corruption related to the arms deal.
Instead, the NPA was subjected to political interference, including the appointment of Menzi Simelane as its national director of public prosecutions, who was later ignominiously forced out by court order.
“I am mindful of the fact that the charges against Zuma were withdrawn, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Zuma once faced those charges and the matter never went to court. That is what people will always remember. I’ve always seen the driving forces behind the corruption currently ravaging the country as a combination of three bad factors: a corrupt civil servant, a corrupt politician and a corrupt business person.”
The withdrawal of the criminal charges against Zuma is still a subject of a legal battle between the DA and the Presidency, with the opposition demanding the spy tapes that led to Pikoli’s successor Mokotedi Mpshe’s decision to stop prosecuting the man who became the president a few months later in 2009. The NPA has since refused to hand over the tapes as directed by the court (see opposite article).
Pikoli concedes that the biggest controversy of his tenure as the country’s top prosecutor remains his decision to give mining magnate Brett Kebble’s killers plea bargains in return for the prosecution of Jackie Selebi.
“But what could possibly be worse than a national police commissioner who is a criminal himself: guilty of corruption and of protecting criminals?… We never envisaged that Glenn Agliotti would go free. We also intended to prosecute Agliotti along with John Stratton… for the death of Kebble.”
Pikoli says he’s not entirely sure why Mbeki was so desperate to protect Selebi.
“At the time, Mbeki was an isolated president… Given his long friendship with Selebi, he must have seen in Selebi an ally that could assist him in his political fights… Selebi was in control of the VIP protectors and of Crime Intelligence and that gave them control over the instruments they needed.”
One thing neither Pikoli nor his wife can understand nor stomach is his betrayal by erstwhile comrades in the party and their vendetta against him after he left the NPA.
After the Ginwala Inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing following his suspension, the ANC pressured SizweNtsalubaGobodo, the largest black-owned accounting firm and fifth biggest in the country, to oust him.
“When I left the NPA, I was not as enraged as I was when I was booted out of SNG. They couldn’t tell me who in the ANC was putting them under pressure and to this day I don’t know.”
And then, when he was shortlisted to become chief executive of Business Against Crime, he was sidelined again because of political pressure, he said.
He’s vowed to get to the bottom of the campaign, but he hasn’t lost faith in the ANC, but the party, he says, has to own up to its flaws and factionalism.
“We need to stop pretending we don’t have problems… issues of corruption, of cronyism, of promoting self-interest… (People) are put into positions because it is known they can approve certain tenders that will benefit comrades.
“That is a fact of life.
“The ANC has to allow the internal leadership race to be run openly and not on the ‘slate’ system where entire leader groups are elected en masse. Most of all, it has to stop blaming the past.
“Who is responsible for these failures? We are!… We cannot look past the fact that we are in charge now and we have a democratically elected government. All we have fought for cannot simply have been in vain.”
Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj said he could not comment on “something I have not seen”.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said they would make an informed comment after reading the book.
Pikoli is the second former ANC leader and government official to write a book about his political tribulations after Frank Chikane, former director-general in the Presidency, explosively narrated the shaky transition of Mbeki’s dismissal in 2008. – Additional reporting by Mogomotsi Magome