The Daily Vox spoke to constitutional law professor, Pierre de Vos, about the means and likelihood of President Zuma facing charges in light of the Public Protector’s State Capture Report.
There are two issues. The one is the breach of the Executive Ethics Code, read with the Executive Ethics Act. Several years ago, the Public Protector already requested parliament to change it, because in terms of the Act, the president must take action against somebody in the Executive found to have breached that Code. But this is now the second or third time the president has actually breached this code. But the president is the one who must take action in terms of the Act, because when they passed the law they assumed that the president would always be above suspicion.
That means that if action is to be taken, it will have to be taken by Parliament. Parliament can recall him, censure him, ask him to come and account, have a vote of no confidence – you know, the usual things. But of course, because it’s Parliament, these are political, not legal processes.
Then there are allegations that there might have been breaches of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act, firstly in the suggestion – though there’s not a lot of evidence for that – that the president used his power as president to give somebody benefits. Secondly, the president failed to report what he suspected as corruption – that is a crime in terms of the Corruption Act. If you become aware of what you think is corruption, you have to report it to the police. All of these criminal things, not the Executive Ethics Act, these criminal charges must be investigated by the Corruption Fighting Unit – which is the Hawks. The Hawks must see if there is a case and then the National Prosecuting Authority must see if they will prosecute. So the question of whether this will be done… I’ll leave it for your imagination.
Currently, given the compromised nature of the Hawks, I don’t think there will be a serious investigation of the allegations of criminal activity. It just seems unlikely to me. Whether the Parliament will respond, it really all depends on the internal ANC politics, which I’m not knowledgeable enough about.