Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

Former president Jacob Zuma, who recently violated a Constitutional Court order himself and is facing a number of criminal charges, says SA laws are not strict enough and are partially to blame for a lack of social cohesion in the country.

In his presentation to an ANC virtual session on social cohesion, Zuma stayed clear of his own transgression of the law and opted to lecture those who attended on political tolerance and mature debate.

Speaking during the virtual gathering on Sunday, Zuma said the country’s laws take a “soft” stance, even against those who commit heinous crimes.  

“For an example, today, if I commit a crime, if I kill somebody in front of all of you, the laws of this country say you can’t say this person is being arrested or charged because he’s killed a person, it says we must say we suspect this man has killed this person. That’s the softness of the law.”

He also attacked the country’s bail laws. “Today, if I committed a crime, no matter how serious, I have a right to apply for bail,” he said.

He added: “I think our laws are not biting enough. They are not dealing with people enough. For example, people who were sentenced to life imprisonment, it is always known they will be out in 20 years.”  

The ANC’s virtual social cohesion session was meant to discuss one of 12 national general council (NGC) papers. Zuma was a keynote speaker on the topic and the other panellists included Abba Omar, Lindiwe Maseko, Steven Friedman and Thozama April.  

Zuma also took a swipe at parliamentary proceedings which have, on various occasions, been disrupted by MPs. “There is less content in the discussion of how do we move forward, building a nation and a cohesive society. That debate is not there in parliament,” he said.

However, only voters who placed those members in parliament could hold them to account, according to Zuma.  “We think in order to deal with some issues we need to shout, use insults at times, which I don’t think reflects on social cohesion. Those who elect the people are not strict enough to say, ‘You are not doing what we sent you to do there’,” he said.

“What that means is people should respect others, should be able to raise issues properly. The correction of that lies in the voters represented by them,” he said.

He pointed to the land question as one of the biggest challenges that the country is grappling with, and that is also hindering social cohesion. “There can’t be cohesion when other people live in umjondolo [shacks] while others are living in decent houses. It’s like we have two nations in one world, so to speak.”

The trust deficit between citizens and the state was identified as one of the issues confronting the party. University of Fort Hare historian April, said the party needs to dig deep to establish the underlying causes of the lack of trust.

“There needs to be an alignment of ANC’s vision with a programme of action; a clear articulation of what the problem is. The document should do much more digging in terms of unearthing what the underlying issues are,” she said.

April also pointed a finger at cadre deployment, a policy that has been heavily criticised by opposition parties.



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