This is a speech delivered yesterday by Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance. It’s content is important to South Africa and a victory for democracy. Let’s hope that all the Spy Tapes are in fact handed over. You can download the full Zuma versus DA Judgement here.
Today we can feel reassured that the institutions tasked to protect our democracy are very much alive and well.
As long as we have an independent judiciary that is prepared to hand down court orders such as this one today, we are still standing and we are still fighting.
Through five years and six court applications we have said: Give us the tapes. Give us the records showing why the decision was made for charges on over 700 counts of corruption against Jacob Zuma to be withdrawn, clearing the way for him to become President.
And today the courts have answered our call.
It is, in fact, the call of all South Africans for accountability, and equality before the law.
By order of the courts, the National Prosecuting Authority has 5 days to hand over the full Spy Tapes, and the full records of the decision to drop the corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
After five years of asking for the NPA to give us the tapes, and after President Zuma’s lawyers tried to stop their release by filibustering through the courts over six applications, South Africans now have only 5 days to wait. We will be analysing those tapes very carefully, and cross checking them, to make sure, as far as possible, that they are authentic.
Today’s court order is encouraging because it gives all South Africans confidence that, there are institutions of our democracy that will still defend our rights under the constitution, even if we have to undergo a long process to get there.
We are determined that South Africa will be an open society where all are equal before the law.
Today the courts, as the ultimate guardian of our democracy, have acted to stop the capture of another institution — the National Prosecuting Authority — by the President and his clique inside the ANC. They must know that their actions are subject to review by the courts, and that although the wheels of justice grind slowly, they still grind exceedingly fine.
As democrats we must use the institutions of our democracy to defend democracy.
It is counter-productive to use grandstanding methods to undermine these institutions while we pretend to protect the democracy they are designed to serve. It is easy to make a noise, it is harder to make a difference.
And today a real difference has been made at a time when we all see the signs that our democracy is under threat.
From the refusal to accept responsibility for Nkandla, from Guptagate to the 700 counts of corruption that President Zuma is determined not to answer in court, to the ruling party’s cynical attacks on the office of the Public Protector, we see how determined the corrupt in power are to avoid scrutiny.
It is a tragic irony that they have unlimited access to taxpayers’ money to hire expensive legal teams in order to avoid being held accountable. This is taking our democracy down a slippery slope. [Mike Hampton – hypocritical of Zille as the DA does the same]
But today, the Supreme Court of Appeal has drawn a line in what will turn out to be the most important review case in 20 years of democracy. We are now reaching the end of the beginning in this matter. Now that we have these records we will proceed with the review of the NPA’s decision to drop the charges against Jacob Zuma.
The DA is determined to see this case through to the end, whatever the cost, not because we are “anti-Zuma” or “anti-ANC” but because the issue at stake is crucial to every South African who wants to live in a constitutional democracy, and have a future for their children and grandchildren here.
Let us acknowledge the significance of today’s victory now, in the knowledge that the real fight is still ahead of us.
The fight for a South Africa where all of us can have the opportunity to live and prosper, and the fight against those who want to break down our democratic institutions for their own gain, is only beginning.
You can read lots more and gain greater understanding by visiting the Mail & Guardian’s Spy Tapes page.