Saving us from Armageddon

Andrew Donaldson writes on Cyril Ramaphosa's responding affidavit in the Putin BRICS meeting case


THE president is taking steps to ensure that South Africa escapes a fate even worse than a fate worse than death. Cyril Ramaphosa will not arrest Vladimir Putin because to do so would be to declare war on Russia and we would then be embroiled in a conflict which we could, at best, only come second. By a considerable margin.

This good news is revealed in his responding affidavit to a High Court application by the Democratic Alliance to force the state to arrest and detain Putin if he attends next month’s Brics summit and then hand him over to the International Criminal Court to face war crimes charges.

Squirrel claims that a war with Russia would betray his constitutional duty to protect the country’s sovereignty, peace and security. As it currently stands, the SANDF doesn’t have the capacity to defend anything as it is appears in alarming disrepair, held together by string and sticking plaster. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Besides which, any such conflict would surely interfere with the low-level civil war that the ANC is presently waging against South Africans. Russia must therefore get in line if it wants to cry havoc and bring more misery and misfortune into our lives.

Actually, no, the president didn’t really say that. Only something like that. Sort of.

Squirrel’s affidavit was previously deemed to be “confidential” but is now open to public scrutiny after the Johannesburg High Court ruled on Tuesday that it should be disclosed without qualification along with all other documents in the matter. In papers, he states:

“I must highlight, for the sake of transparency, that South Africa has obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender President Putin. Russia has made it clear that arresting its sitting president would be a declaration of war. 

“It would be inconsistent with our constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia. I have constitutional obligations to protect the national sovereignty, peace and security of the republic, and to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of the people of the republic to life, safety and security, among other rights in the Bill of Rights.”

And indeed he does have such obligations. Why he should only appear to be reminded of them when his other obligations, those internationally binding ones, to the Rome Statute and the ICC, loom large in his in-tray is perhaps neither here nor there. This is simply the way of straw men and cowards.

Squirrel reportedly describes the DA’s application as unnecessary, superfluous and irresponsible, especially as Russia had expressly stated that the arrest of its genocidal dictator would be tantamount to a declaration of war. The ICC itself had even voiced concerns over Russia’s nuclear capabilities, he added.

What’s more, and in a nutshell, there were provisions in the Rome Statute which concern the sort of problems that may arise when attempting to arrest and surrender a person for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued. While signatories to the statute, like South Africa, are obliged to comply with the ICC’s requests for co-operation in such cases, there were nevertheless occasions when such co-operation would be extremely difficult. 

Such as right now. Squirrel adds:

“I respectfully submit that the problems envisaged [in the statute] may include situations where implementing the request for the arrest and surrender of a person threatens the national security, peace and order of a state. 

“It would be a reckless, unconstitutional and unlawful exercise of the powers conferred upon the government to declare war with Russia by arresting President Putin. My government and I have constitutional obligations to protect the national sovereignty, peace and security of the republic and its people.” 

Underpinning this submission is, of course, the undeniable fact that Putin is a warmonger and criminal. He and his goon government are naturally going to throw a wobbly should there be any attempt to arrest him. And yes, it will probably be very ugly.

But there is a simple solution to this dilemma, and that is to withdraw Putin’s invitation to attend the Brics conference. 

Do so in an unequivocal manner with no ambiguity. Simply tell him he’s not welcome, voetsak, and that’s that. No hong honging and diplomatic guff from Naledi Pandor whose “foreign affair” with the ghastly Sergey Lavrov must now end. In fact, rebrand this summit in Johannesburg as a Bics conference. No truck whatsoever, in other words, with Russians for the foreseeable.

The international community, particularly South Africa’s trading partners, would obviously support such a position. Their endorsement would ring out as all endorsements surely should, loud and clear. They realise all too well that Pretoria’s “non-aligned” pro-Russian stance harks back to the former Soviet Union’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle, but are puzzled if not dismayed that it should continue more than three decades later.

Such allegiance is particularly frustrating as Moscow and its proxies are now hellbent on exercises in territories around the world, including Africa, that ought to be anathema to the ANC’s so-called anti-colonial values.

Squirrel has declared under oath, in court documents, that he is constitutionally obliged to act in South Africa’s interests. He has failed time and again to do just that.

The road to recovery

So, the Constitutional Court upholds a ruling that Jacob Zuma should return to prison and the next day we are told the Convict is not feeling well and is in Russia receiving treatment. An odd business, not so?

Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi, the former president’s spokesman, believes otherwise and that there is nothing here that should concern us. He was adamant that Zuma’s departure from the country was not in any way linked to the ConCourt ruling. 

“There’s no connection,” Eyewitness News quoted Jimmy as saying. “The president Jacob Zuma is not a sangoma, he wouldn’t have known last week already that the judgement is coming. In the [JG Zuma Foundation] we don’t have an Ismail Abramjee.”

Some of this is correct. Zuma is not a sangoma, and Abramjee, a legal analyst and reporter, is not connected to the foundation. Two out of four, then.

The Blesser’s medical trip, Jimmy added, is both a “private matter” and “not a secret” and, as he told reporters on Friday, “Zuma travelled to Russia last week for health reasons. He will be returning to the country once his doctors have completed their treatment.”

There’s no word yet as to when that will be. According to Jimmy, the “nitty gritty” of such detail is irrelevant. Experience, however, suggests that it could be a while before Zuma’s back at home; he is, apparently, one very sick individual, and the Russkis may have their work cut out for them. His health, we’ve been told, has been on the fritz since 2014 following the much publicised alleged poisoning by former first lady and wife number four, Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma. 

In the years that followed, his ill-health has featured prominently in the bouquet of tactics deployed to delay court proceedings and avoid turning up in court to face numerous corruption charges. Quite what it is that troubles uBaba remains a mystery. All we know of his medical condition is the entry “medical condition” on a sick note from a military doctor.

A related development has meanwhile been noted by the regulars at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”) and there has been some discussion about “long Jacob”, a lingering condition adversely affecting public health. It is mostly prevalent among members of the legal profession, and is especially evident whenever advocate Dali Mpofu (aka “Odium Flap”) rises to address the court. Symptoms include exaggerated eye-rolling, exasperated groaning and snorts of disbelief.

That said, we wonder what sort of treatment the former president will get in Russia. Will it be similar to the kind that convicted fraudster Shabby Shaik received following his diagnosis of a terminal condition? 

Readers will recall that Shabby was released from prison to die at home. However, along with abstinence and prayer, medical science managed to coax Zuma’s former financial adviser back to life — but not as we perhaps know life, for it was soon reported that he was now undead, a zombie roaming the country clubs of KwaZulu-Natal looking for reporters to eat.

We are, of course, not experts and can only speculate on such matters. But there is no denying the similarities between these two cases. This includes an extreme reluctance to spend time behind bars and an effulgence of vapours that ramps up the heart rate and makes it difficult to draw breath whenever the law rears its head. Or some such. 

Which may seem strange, seeing as uBaba once delighted in telling his supporters that he was not afraid of being sent to prison as he had already been incarcerated during the apartheid era. It was old hat to him, it seems; been there, done that, got the overalls. What has now changed?

What’s even more weird is that Zuma was in Zimbabwe earlier this month for the inaugural meeting of the African Voluntary Carbon Credits Forum. Not much is known about this organisation other than it aims to establish an African “carbon registry” that, according to reports, “will trade on the Victoria Falls stock exchange”.

It’s probably not wrong to suggest that the man was a bit out of his depth here. When News24 states that he “has no known track record in the carbon credits industry”, they are being polite and perhaps erring on the side of caution. He knows as much about this stuff as he does about contraception and safe sex. Still, this did not stop him from addressing those present with some confidence:

“Let me appreciate what the Zimbabwe government has done for the continent of Africa, as well as our brothers and sisters globally, given the challenges we face because of the changing world in terms of what is happening. It’s a very hostile world, hostile atmosphere as a result of us sitting here, doing what we are doing, which in the end causes some challenges to our lives, to our health, to everything.”

This was followed by waffle in which the forum’s business was likened to the “autonomy and economic power” of pre-colonial Zimbabwe. “History too will look back at your excellences, ladies and gentlemen, in these moments in much the same way as a ‘defining moment’ in the history of the world.”

Perhaps. But historians may also come to regard this address as being reassuringly and familiarly incoherent and conclude that the man was, in fact, in excellent health when he made that speech. It was drivel, all right. But it was stand-up drivel; the virility of golden age Msholozi ever present with its overtones of perceived injustices and slights from the clevers.

It’s worth noting that this was just a couple of days before his sudden departure for medical treatment in Russia. What had brought about the dramatic collapse in health? What had laid him low? If it wasn’t, as Jimmy Manyi has suggested, the impending Constitutional Court judgment, then what was it?

I suspect the photo-op at the carbon credits forum may have been responsible. This was when some African-Belarusian trade organisation handed two million ERUs over to the forum. Accused Number One was up on the podium for the occasion. The camera flashbulbs were popping, and he looked very happy, firmly holding up one side of that giant cheque…

I think it was later made clear to him that ERU is the acronym for “emission reduction unit”, which, in terms of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, represents a reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The confusion is understandable, but the ERU has nothing to do with the euro, a more robust currency. This disappointing discovery may have tipped him over the edge.