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Zuma ’manipulated public opinion to shift attention away from his corruption cases’ – DA’s Malatsi

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Manipulation of public opinion and cynical blackmailing of South Africa and the courts were used to shift attention away from former president Jacob Zuma, DA MP Solly Malatsi said.

Former president Jacob ZUma. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

MANIPULATION of public opinion and cynical blackmailing of the country and courts was used to shift attention away from the corruption cases former president Jacob Zuma faced, DA MP Solly Malatsi said on Wednesday.

Speaking in the online DA panel discussion The Inside Track, Malatsi said the evidence was at play even from Zuma’s sentiments on the day he was meant to hand himself over to the police to be imprisoned.

“It was to blackmail the country and it was to shift attention away from the historic, long cases of corruption and going back to the time he was deputy president and president of the country,” he said.

Malatsi also said it was used in such a way that he protected himself from possible future prosecutions.

“Once he had lost control of the state and lost the presidency, it manifested in legal tactics he adopted to circumvent them.”

He made reference to the statements issued by Carl Niehaus and Zuma’s family in order to manipulate inequality and try to rally people into standing up for someone who expressed disregard for the law.

Malatsi said that had the ANC done the right things in Parliament throughout Zuma’s tenure, “we would not be in the situation we are in”.

He also took a swipe at the state’s response to the gathering in Nkandla, allowing the people to break the law.

“Had that been done by ordinary civilians, we know it has the appetite to respond to incidents of law-breaking. When it comes to key people aligned to the government, and most importantly to the ANC, the state response is inadequate.

“In fact, it is non-existent because no state that has proper intelligence services would not have anticipated there would be a breakout of disruption and instability in KwaZulu-Natal in particular.”

Malatsi said that State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s assertion that they had averted serious damage was laughable.

“If the state intelligence sector had done its job fully, it would have anticipated that there would be this level of response and put in place measures to contain it.”

He said the police could not respond adequately to the protests because of the inadequate funding of the SAPS and skewed priorities when it came to the VIP protection services, which enjoyed a huge budget.

“What we see is the consequence of years of under-investment in the SAPS in order to prepare to respond well to situations like this.”

Malatsi said the long-term consequence of the protests was that the people who were poor would be trapped in poverty for a long time.

“People who are losing livelihoods now, it will be almost impossible to rebuild those. The people who will be the most affected will be young people who will never have a chance of being employed because of the disruption that happened to the economy.”

Taking pot shots at Police Minister Bheki Cele, Malatsi said he had been nowhere with media cameras to look at the destruction of public property and provide morale to his officers, unlike when he enforced petty lockdown regulations.

“Our law enforcement officers, when times get tough, leave us on our own. Bheki Cele has been eager to show the strength of the law when it comes to dealing with civilians, but when it is time to face blatant criminality he is nowhere to be found.”

He also said it was always clear from the build-up in those six days when Zuma was anticipated to hand himself over, that the Nkandla gathering was going to lead to something bigger.

“Even then there was no deployment of law enforcement officers to stop that from happening, despite ample warning. It was playing out in broad daylight for everyone to see,” he said.

“The police, through instruction by the political leadership in charge, have been hamstrung to act out of fear of being seen to be against someone who is a former president of the country,” Malatsi said.

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