By Eric Naki
The president shouldn’t be the one expected to act against such ministers when he isn’t being backed up by prosecutors and the courts.South Africa’s criminal justice system, not President Cyril Ramaphosa, is to blame for failure to act against Cabinet ministers such as Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba, who were found to have lied under oath.
Analysts yesterday said that, ideally, the criminal justice system or courts, along with the National Prosecuting Authority, should lead in dealing with politicians who lie, by using existing law.
Constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto said: “Practically, the prosecuting authority should take action. They should investigate whether a politician had falsified information in court and decide whether there are grounds for prosecution, then convince a judge there is a case.
“We shouldn’t shift responsibility or the blame to the president. We can’t always rely on him to act, otherwise we might end up with a system where the president decides about everything.
“We must blame the system for failing. The prosecuting authority and the courts should be the ones that deal with such matters.”
It is a crime to make a false statement under oath and a guilty person could be charged criminally. If convicted, the person could be punished, unless it is proven he made each statement believing it to be true.
Besides former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, former social development minister Dlamini was recently found by the Constitutional Court to have lied under oath regarding social grants. She was later ordered to pay 20% of the cost of the application.
Gigaba as home affairs minister was accused by the high court of having lied under oath during the 2016 case in which Fireblade Aviation challenged him for rejecting its application for an international terminal at OR Tambo International airport due to pressure from the Guptas.
Analyst Ebrahim Fakir agreed with Gutto, saying there are two ways to deal with the lying ministers: legal and political.
“The legal approach is proving someone lied. If someone is charged, it solves the president’s problem. This could have happened in the Sassa case involving Dlamini.
“Someone should have acted, but the NPA and other elements of the criminal justice system failed,” Fakir said.
Ramaphosa could act to protect the credibility of his government.
“But he doesn’t want to act because of the divisions within the ANC,” Fakir said. The Ciziten.