Johannesburg - Johannesburg Against Injustice (JAI) on Saturday added its voice to those supporting veteran investigative reporter and author Jacques Pauw and the publication of his latest book "The President’s Keepers" this week.
JAI was not surprised that state agencies had taken steps to censor Pauw, the organisation said in a statement on Saturday.
"The State Security Agency [SSA] has issued a cease and desist letter to Pauw and his publishers while the SARS [South African Revenue Service] has threatened legal action. Pauw makes serious allegations about the role of Arthur Fraser, the director general of the SSA, and Tom Moyane, the commissioner of the SARS, in aiding and abetting those involved in the state capture project," JAI said.
Pauw had laid bare the reasons for the parlous state of politics under the President Jacob Zuma regime. Those who managed the state capture project had "hollowed out" the SARS, the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime intelligence, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks), and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
"These institutions are now toothless - unable and unwilling to deal with state capture and corruption. We have an errant and evasive president who constantly engages in legal opportunism to avoid accountability with repeated, hollow, and unconvincing protests of innocence. This state of affairs has created a confluence of opportunities for those in charge of the state capture project to advance their mission.
"The courts of our land, civil society, and the media have served as a bulwark against the total capture of our country. Therefore, we are not surprised that elements within the state now seek to silence the media and civil society," JAI said.
In a constitutional democracy, it was reasonable for citizens to expect the executive to act with speed to investigate these allegations. Citizens expected the executive to ensure that key public institutions such as the SARS and SSA were in the hands of capable and ethical leaders who nurtured and protected South Africa's hard-earned democracy.
"However, we live in extraordinary times – a seriously compromised individual serves as the head of our executive. Despite overwhelming and consistent allegations of wrongdoing made against the president, some members of his cabinet, senior government, and SoE [state-owned enterprises] employees and private sector players, including the Guptas, there has been no credible and decisive action to investigate and hold these individuals accountable.
"We call on all democrats to use all legal means at their disposal to resist any attempt by the state to silence the media and civil society. This represents a step backwards into a state of repression and dictatorship. We also call on booksellers not to be intimidated by threats – booksellers are within their rights to refuse to withdraw the book. As JAI, we will continue to work with the Future South Africa coalition to oppose those who seek to reverse the hard fought gains of our democracy.
"As civil society, we have been steeled in the battle against apartheid – we will not allow any factional or other interests to destroy the legacy of successive generations of freedom fighters," JAI said.
JAI is a group of political, civic, and youth activists who have played a role in the broad liberation struggle, in particular within the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front (UDF), and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).