HOW TO STOP A BULLY WITHOUT BECOMING A BULLY, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

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Article by: Cheryllyn Dudley
(Dia LOGOS Political Analyst & Former MP 1999-2019)

The lessons we are learning as a country can be scary, they are forcing us to think about consequences before we speak and act – maybe not everyone but many in key positions – and that makes a difference. The world has always been a place where bullies appear to prosper and subtly the message has been ‘if you want to succeed, learn the art of bullying’.

What many perceived to be the cowering of our police men and women in the face of the present challenges regarding former president Jacob Zuma and his supporters, could also be described as discipline in the face of extreme provocation. Crime and policing expert Dr Guy Lamb has reminded of how quickly things turned violent at Marikana and says lessons were learnt.

Nkandla at the weekend was not an ordinary public order incident but rather a highly politicised event and based on that, if the police did go in to start making arrests, they could have created an even more violent situation that would have played into the hands of the trouble makers parading as ‘Zuma supporters’. As Jesse Duarte said, the fact that the words “human shields” was used at this RET instigated gathering alerted the ANC to the plan they had. The insinuation being that the RET faction aimed to allow women and children to get caught in the crossfire once they had successfully provoked the police.

Lamb said police, in that situation, had very little choice but to de-escalate the situation by practising restraint. He said police must hold the line and not respond aggressively, but instead, gather intelligence and, when the opportunity arises, take action against those who were breaking the law.

While we may be tempted to despair we know “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind…” (2 Timothy 1:7). I for one am grateful for lessons learned and discipline in action. Stopping bullies without becoming bullies is a fine line police walk every day of their working lives.

The Constitutional Court majority judgment that found Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt for not obeying the apex court’s order that he appear before the Zondo Commission to answer allegations about his involvement in State Capture resulted in the former President being sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment. He was given till Sunday 4 July 2021 to hand himself over to authorities.

On Saturday night (3July) during a press briefing jacob Zuma said he was not afraid to go to jail but because of his family and comrades he had decided to fight what he called “injustice”. The day before he had filed papers challenging the country’s highest court to re-examine its ruling saying, amongst other things, that the incarceration order threatens his “own unstable state of health and… life”.
By Sunday afternoon, in his informal address to supporters outside his homestead in isiZulu, Zuma said that he was “as healthy as an ox” and that not appearing before the Zondo Commission was a small issue that had been made into a big one.

Supporters in their hundreds – including a group of Zulu regiments, MKMVA members, Adv Dali Mpofu, and politicians including Tony Yengeni and suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule – had rallied at Nkandla in violation of adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown regulations, threatening violence if necessary, to “protect” the former president from arrest. 

Many have expressed concern that President Ramaphosa has been conspicuous by his absence. This is not of course the reality as continual Government and ANC NEC deliberations have been taking place. What is being assumed to be a lack of response could just as easily be described as a lack of panic and knee jerk reactions that would escalate tensions and divisions being fanned by political posturing. Sadly this is a norm in politics, vying for power is the nature of the beast that raises its head at every level, be it family, church, political parties or civil government.

Sunday evening found Jacob Zuma reading a cleverly worded statement which was clearly guided by the many expert opinions our tireless media had consulted throughout the day. Clever, in that it was a ‘good story’ but it was also a story which had little to do with reality and no regard for the facts. Jacob Zuma boldly declared that he had never refused to appear before the Zondo Commission despite all the evidence to the contrary. He also seems to have convinced himself that walking out of the commission while under summons — placing himself in violation of the Commissions Act — in November last year when Zondo refused to recuse himself was justifiable.

The former President’s comment that South Africa is “sliding back into apartheid rule”, was shown to be only ‘wishful thinking’ on the part of those who aimed to frame the story in this way, precisely because of the discipline shown by police, Government and the official ANC leadership. Likewise Zuma’s reference to being convicted and sentenced before he could argue for mitigation of sentence carried no weight as he had refused to respond to the Constitutional Court’s several requests for him to have his say with regard to the Zondo Commission’s call for him to receive a two year sentence.

Acting Chief Justice Zondo – who was seen as former President-Zuma’s ‘choice’ as commission leader – clearly fell out of favour once Zondo made it clear that he expected the former President to answer to the commission. Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was responsible for the State of Capture report that led to the establishment of the Zondo Commission, had said in her report, that the then-president Zuma should not decide who to appoint as commission chair and that it should be done by the Chief Justice at the time, Mogoeng Mogoeng. When Zondo was duly appointed as chair then- President Zuma showed his unequivocal approval.

What now? Firstly we wait for the outcome of
Former President, Jacob Zuma’s urgent application before the Pietermaritzburg High court expected on Friday 9 July and the Constitutional Courts review of its decision a few days later.

In the meantime, as Christians:

  • We ‘do not let mercy, kindness and truth leave us’. Instead these qualities should define us;
  • We remember that those whom the Lord loves He corrects;
  • We choose not to be scoffers and scorners;
  • We pray for all concerned, those we like those we don’t like, those we trust , those we don’t trust, Jacob Zuma and his supporters, Government, the ANC leaders, our police and all who must uphold justice and the rule of law in the Justice system.
  • We pray for God’s grace, which is His undeserved favor to the humble, in other words, those who give up their self-importance (Proverbs 3:3‭);
  • We keep in mind that it is self defeating to try and stop a bully by becoming a bully – there is another way that involves law and order and enforcement of that law that respects life and liberty.
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