On Wednesday evening I posted a piece on my Thought Leader blog I titled “The poephol shall govern!” (a playful pun on an expression from the Freedom Charter) about Zuma’s inevitable accession to the presidency.
Let’s face it. Short of an Mbeki groupie’s assassination attempt on Zuma (which is unlikely to happen considering the R1 million of taxpayer’s money spent each month protecting the man), come April, the great man will be state president.
Let’s face it, come April, the great man will be state president.
Insinuating that Mbeki-ites would want to assassinate Zuma, or that the only way he could be prevented from becoming president is by assassinating him, is irresponsible and inciteful.
You also claimed the ANC “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system and the very concept of the rule of law and legal processes”. This is a widespread perception, but hasn’t been proven, thus making such a statement libelous.
Firstly the statement was tongue-in-cheek — far from inciting anyone it was instead poking fun at the fervent dislike of Zuma that Mbeki supporters have. But tongue-in-cheek notwithstanding, I fail to see how pointing to the inevitability of a Zuma presidency (with an assassination being the only thing stopping that) is irresponsible or inciteful — it merely acknowledges that Zuma’s overwhelming support (both amongst the electorate and within a powerful camp in the ANC) will propel him to the presidency regardless of the legal issues he faces — something that I explore and justify in the rest of the post.By claiming that only an assasination will prevent him from becoming president I am not at all inciting or encouraging people to kill him. Far from it. I’m simply saying that I believe with such certainty that he will become president — and that the only way forseeable way that this would not occur would be if someone assasinated him (which I further point out is extremely unlikely to occur — for obvious reasons).
I believe the second piece you mention to have been misinterpreted.The entire paragraph reads:But even if he has been a victim of Mbeki’s Machiavellian machinations that does not justify absolution. Advocating such a sinister agenda illustrates how absolutely desperate certain elements of the ANC are to ensure that their man gets to the top. So much personal interest is at stake that they will, it seems, quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system and the very concept of the rule of law and legal processes, which form key components of our constitutional democracy, to ensure that Zuma moves into the Tuynhuys.Firstly as you will see above, I reference “certain elements of the ANC” and not the ANC as a whole. (Since I do not name who these elements are — obviously Zuma’s high-ranking supporters — it’s unlikely that the M&G or myself will face libel action from these “elements”).
But furthermore this can’t be libellous because I say “they will, it seems ” — not “they are” — implying that it would appear that the certain elements (i.e. Zuma supporters) “will” (i.e. are prepared to — the use of the future tense means that they haven’t necessarily done so yet) “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system etc….” — the belief that they are prepared to do so being based on on my analysis and interpretation of the legal obstructionism (discussed in great detail elsewhere in the post) being used to prevent Zuma going to trial.
To read the paragraph as a whole it is clear that I am stating that by promoting Zuma’s absolution, those within the ANC who adovocate such an agenda are prepared to “quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system etc….” — and this is a legitimate and not libellous sentiment because it is based on the hypothesis that by wanting to prevent Zuma from standing trial, those “certain elements” are setting a precedent of Zuma being above the law and thus are riding roughshod over the judicial system which implements the law — simply by being demanding that Zuma be an exception to it and its potential consequences.
It seems that gone are the days when the M&G relished its role as cheeky, feisty fighter for free-speech. Who would have thought that they were this frightened of Jacob Zuma et al?
As I explained to the M&G Online, I take the words I write and the meaning they convey very seriously. While I understand defamatory content is not acceptable on Thought Leader I think it is vital to preserve the spirit of free speech and vibrant, possibly controversial opinion so long as it explained and justified — which I believe my blog post (or at least the one I submitted) attempted to do. To censor a valid contribution runs the risk of inducing self-censorship, which can only damage robust debate in this country.
- Read the uncensored version of The poephol shall govern! here.