President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS.

Durban - Almost six months after he took office as president of the country with the promise of clean governance, political analysts believe that the rule of law has not improved under the watch of Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa took office amid hope that the corrupt would be prosecuted, political killers in KZN would be nabbed and prosecuted, cold cases like the Senzo Meyiwa’s case would be probed and killers and those who defeated the ends of justice would be , but that has not happened. 

Political analyst Xolani Dube of Xubera Institute, said one of the reasons why Ramaphosa has not been able to champion the cause of rule of law was that most of the people who are involved in wrongdoing are people close to him with whom he has worked with in the last term of the Zuma presidency. Dube said Ramaphosa himself is also not squeaky clean as he was tainted by his association ( he was deputy president) with Zuma. 

“You can only be (talking about) the rule of law if you are not tainted. You can’t execute the rule of law if you are like those you want to be prosecuted. It becomes a cumbersome process."

Dube said Ramaphosa wanted to appear to be doing something and outwardly appeared to be willing to apply the rule of law and to put people behind bars.

He added that Ramaphosa was mainly voted into office by people who wanted a leader who would clean the state but their patience was wearing thin as nothing was happening. 

“People have reached the level whereby they are washing their hands and they are saying look, there is nothing different here. In this organisation (the ANC), they are protecting each other,” Dube said.

He added that the country’s justice system has been found wanting in many cases. He cited the decision to seal the CR17 bank statements saying “they are compromising our justice system for the sake of Cyril.”

Another political analyst, Mighti Jamie, said restoring the rule of law is not a process that can be undertaken in a mere space of six months and Ramaphosa’s inability to fully restore it could be attributed to the fact that he inherited a broken system where the Hawks and the SAPS have failed to emulate the disbanded Scorpions. 

He said some of the reasons why people believe he has failed to restore the rule of law was because there has been no prosecution in high-profile cases like VBS and the arms deal.

“When people look at high-profile cases a perception is created that if you are powerful enough in this country you are not going to be held to account. The same applies to the Senzo Meyiwa case. All of the irregularities around the docket and the lack of movement in the case is attributed to that.”

Jamie added that the other reason why Ramaphosa is not winning in the rule of law front was because he was for the time being interested in fixing failing state companies like Eskom and not interested in pursuing political criminals. 

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, took a different view and said the executive under Ramaphosa has taken several steps to enhance law enforcement. She said such work includes strengthening the capacity of the criminal justice system through amongst others appointment of the Heads of the Hawks and the NPA.

“The President has further established a Special Tribunal of the SIU tasked with accelerating the recovery of monies stolen from the state. Within the NPA an Investigative Directorate has been established with a mandate to  follow up and where necessary prosecute matters emanating from the Commissions on State Capture, the PIC and SARS amongst others," she said. 

She added that in line with the constitution, the president does not arrest people; he has confidence however in the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies to undertake their work without fear or favour.

Turning to the bank records of the CR17 which were controversially sealed after a high court ruling, Diko said all due processes were followed. 

“Bank records linked to the CR17 campaign were sealed by the court following a representation by the President’s legal counsel to keep confidential information of third parties such as bank account details private. This request was made through the due legal process and in furtherance of the applicable law.  To suggest that this undermines the rule of law is absurd.”

Political Bureau