Honest revolutionaries are the first to respect the laws!

Justice Piitso says Pravin Gordhan cannot be allowed to carry the ANC to the doorsteps of imperialism

Honest revolutionaries are the first to respect the laws of our democratic state 

31 August 2016

One is deeply worried by the growing wave of opportunism which has in the past few years became the main characteristic feature of the South African political terrain. Political pandemonium of the art of the possible is tearing our movement apart before our eyes. 

The enemy of our national democratic revolution is disrupting the unity of our movement under cover of outcries for unity. Such political posture outside the parameters of our organizational discipline is the highest forms of counter revolution. 

Revolutionaries are duty bound to be the best embodiment of the culture and traditions of our liberation movement. History has witnessed the demise of many of our best revolutionary moments because of the squalor of opportunism. 

The glorious moment of a soldier of a revolutionary movement is the day in which he appears before the judge. This is a day to tell the masses of our people the truth about the revolution. 

The episode we are witnessing of our Minister of Finance carrying our national liberation movement like a trophy to the doorsteps of imperialism cannot be allowed. At the end he must bear the consequences if the rating agencies downgrade our economy into a junk status.

Therefore his decision to undermine the authority of the law enforcement agencies has a tremendous political consequences to the future of our country. Time has come that we liberate our society from the consciousness of personality cult. 

History reminds us of the most difficult times when one of the best sons of our continent, in fact the architect of the framework of the post South African colonial state, former President Mbeki, has to choose between his selfish interest and that of the country. When the movement instructed him so, he resigned with the highest forms of discipline as a President of the South African state. 

I am quite certain that it was going to be a spiral anarchy should he has chosen the path of confronting our movement through the courts of law and other parliamentary processes. But without doubt he adhered to the principle of democratic centralism. 

Recently he again voluntarily appeared before the Seriti Judicial Commission of inquiry into the investigation of the arms deal. He did so precisely because he understand that the plethora of commissions and investigations goes to the heart of the leadership and accountability in South Africa. 

Cde Mbeki was also incandescent with rage when advocate Paul Hoffman was cross examining him on his involvement in the processes of the procurement during the arms deal. The point here is that Mbeki cooperated and appeared before the commission despite his reservations and belief that the proceedings were not far.

It is nauseating to observe the hypocrisy of those who have championed the independence of the Chapter 9 institutions actively undermining institutions such as the Hawks which are constitutionally required to be independent. Cde Pravin Gorthan is the first to instill confidence and trust of the institutions of our democracy to our people. 

On 17 March 2011 the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Mr Glenisterand made two key findings. Firstly, that the Constitution imposed a duty on the State to establish and maintain an independent body (the Hawks) to combat corruption and organised crime. Secondly, that the creation of the Hawks did not meet the constitutional requirement of adequate independence. 

Parliament was handed the task of amending the laws to ensure that the Hawks had the requisite level of independence.  With regard to concerns about corruption the Court held at paragraph 166 that:

There can be no gainsaying that corruption threatens to fell at the knees virtually everything we hold dear and precious in our hard-won constitutional order. It blatantly undermines the democratic ethos, the institutions of democracy, the rule of law and the foundational values of our nascent constitutional project. It fuels maladministration and public fraudulence and imperils the capacity of the state to fulfil its obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil all the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. When corruption and organised crime flourish, sustainable development and economic growth are stunted. And in turn, the stability and security of society is put at risk." 

One must poignantly ask whether the refusal by the minister of finance  to appear before the Hawks is not undermining the independence of the Hawks, violating his oath of office particularly his duty to uphold and protect the constitution, and also undermining the institutions of a constitutional democracy and their independence. Is it enough for me to do so under the guise of ' doing his job'.

It does not serve the good path of our revolution for our minister to mobilise some of the segments of our society particularly of the most conservative of the white community such as Judge Kriegler. It is untold in history that a revolutionary can mobilise such elements of our society to undermine our democratic ethos,the rule of law and the foundations of our democratic dispensation. 

He is oblivious of the Concourt’s pronouncement that “When corruption and organised crime flourish, sustainable development and economic growth are stunted. And in turn, the stability and security of society is put at risk.”  The lousy excuse that his refusal is justified because he is just doing his job is absolutely deplorable and dishonest.

Those who have made it their mantra to praise the dead in order to condemn the living will remember the following when they invoke the name of our inte national icon former President Nelson Mandela. He is the measure of discipline in the history of our movement. 

In the year 1998, he appeared before the Pretoria high court in the case instigated by the former rugby boss Dr Louis Luyt. Our former stalwart of our liberation movement was incensed and even stated before taking the stand that his blood was boiling for having being dragged into court to explain his decision to set up a commission to investigate racism, corruption and nepotism in rugby.

 He also said he had grave reservations about the unprecedented order for him to appear in court because it might open floodgates by which all presidential decisions might be challenged and government undermined. What mattered is that he did not pull out the procedural sideshows we are now witnessing from Gordhan.

He blasted Luyt in his testimony: “The feeling is that Louis is a pitiless dictator… No one can stand up to him.”  He made known his hurt, anger and frustration: “I would never have imagined that Louis would be so insensitive, ungrateful and disrespectful to to say when I gave my affidavit I was lying.” 

 The apartheid era judge agreed with Luyt  and ruled against Mandela. In his ruling, Mr de Villiers stopped just short of calling the president a liar, saying that Mr Mandela's testimony lacked credibility on a number of issues. "His overall demeanour is, to my mind, subject to material criticism," the judge said of the president. That ruling was later overturned. 

The constitutional court ruled that the judge had made key errors of law and in fact in compelling Mr Mandela to testify in court and then all but calling him a liar. The Concourt also ruled that Judge de Villiers had no right to take the unprecedented step of compelling Mr Mandela to testify. 

The state's lawyers argued that the order requiring him to do so was an insult and a manifestation of bias by the judge.  What matters here is the principle that Mandela did  not defy the institutions of the judiciary – he subjected himself to the law and then filed an appeal like an ordinary citizen.

The moral of the story is that honest and ethical leaders and politicians such as Mandela have endured the unpalatable experience of testifying in cases where they felt the odds were stacked against them.  They put aside their reservations and cooperated fully. 

The minister of finance is setting up a dangerous precedent of allowing politicians to pick and choose which independent institutions they want to cooperate with is inimical to the rule of law. Moreover, it undermines the effectiveness of the Hawks, an anti-corruption agency whose independence they are constitutionally obligated to respect, uphold and protect.

Therefore it cannot be that our own minister plays in the gallery of the enemy of our revolution to wrench our economy into a junk status. We know this is the strategy of imperialism and apartheid post colonial forces to obliterate our movement in the next coming national general elections. 

The biggest enemy of our national democratic revolution is the British monopoly capital which is collaborating with the local white bourgeoisie to undermine the pace of transformation in our country. It is true that in class struggle victory is sweet but defeat is bitter.

Therefore the posture by some of our leaders today demonstrate the validity of the theoretical exposition that to be a revolutionary is not a permanent feature. But that cannot be at the expense of suffocating our country into a banana republic. 

Our minister must stop bringing all these confusion and divisions within our democratic state and our movement in general and do the honorable duty. He has all the moral responsibility to subject himself to the laws of our country. 

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to the republic of Cuba and the former provincial secretary of the SACP writing this article on his personal capacity.