Plausible deniability. It’s a political phrase that captures that grey area in which politicians may reasonably distance themselves from something that stinks. And so, when the Sunday Times reported that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had been hanging around with cigarette smugglers (alleged, of course — the Hawks being apparently unable to prosecute this sort of crime) to raise money for her presidential campaign, they reached for plausible deniability. She posed with many people for photographs all the time. She didn’t even know these people. There is some history that is relevant. While health minister under former President Nelson Mandela, Dlamini-Zuma had enacted the harsh anti-smoking laws that have brought shame to the families of smokers for a generation. It would just be rude to take tobacco smuggling money, wouldn’t it? Well, these people — described as “self-confessed” tobacco smuggler Adriano Mazzotti, gambling tycoon Philip Anastassopoulos and another — appeared to know Dlamini...

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