Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Andrew Feinstein

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Zuma reprieve will undermine the foundation of our democracy

I was shocked to read that the NPA is seriously considering dropping corruption and fraud charges against Jacob Zuma.

To protect the country’s likely-to-be president in this way will be an unmitigated disaster for South Africa and our nascent democracy, for the ANC and for Zuma himself.

The National Prosecuting Authority, one of the most important institutions of our criminal justice system, will be perceived to have bowed to political pressure.

This will fuel the view that justice is not done in a country buffeted by excessive levels of crime and corruption.

It will, in a stroke, undermine the very foundation of our democracy: that all are equal before the law.

It will make a mockery of any attempts by an ANC-led government to combat corruption at all levels of the state.

And it will send a message to investors that our legal system is malleable to political whim, thereby increasing the risk premium of doing business in South Africa.

But, most important of all, it will jettison the moral fabric of our country and its ruling party, onto the stinking slagheap of the arms deal and its cover-up, Oilgate and its cover-up, Travelgate and its cover-up, the Chancellor House fiasco and the unconscionable release of Schabir Shaik.

And let us not forget the even greater moral failings of the years of Aids denialism.

The NPA’s reputation will be shot.
» read more

SA Sojourn

I have recently returned to London after almost three weeks in SA.

I visited the Cape Town Book Fair for the first time and was taken not just by the size of the event but by the amazing diversity of what was on offer.

There were many great stands, but Jacana‘s was so wonderfully innovative in a uniquely South African way.

The three events I did were profoundly different. From a pure arms deal discussion with the courageous Terry Crawford-Browne to a conversation about not just post-Polokwane politics but also the differences between the biographer and the polemicist with Mark Gevisser and a broad-ranging discussion with the always thought-provoking Xolela Mangcu.

I then did my usual gamut of talks to a variety of different community groups, ranging from the Marais Road synagogue, the University of the Third Age in Hermanus and the launch of the Social Justice Coalition in Salt River.

The latter was a spirited meeting of hundreds of people from Claremont to Khayelitsha who wanted to make their voices heard against the recent xenophobic violence and the lack of accountability of our elected politicians and officials which was so graphically illustrated by their insipid response to the crisis. This, together with the undermining of the rule of law on everything from the despicable Malema/Vavi comments, through Travelgate, the Constitutional Court, the Zuma (non) trial, the Selebi situation and, of course, Zimbabwe, has left me more concerned about the state of the South African polity than at any time since the defeat of apartheid. The ululating crowd in Salt River gave a sense of hope amidst the gloom with their calls for both a global humanity and a more active, inclusive local community politics.
» read more

Arms Deal Q&A published an interview with me yesterday about the current arms deal investigations, the state of the ANC, and aspects of my life. Here’s the link for those who might find it interesting:

Do you think the arms-deal report by the African National Congress national executive committee (NEC) will get to the bottom of the matter?

No, I think that enquiry is purely for internal political purposes in relation to Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki. But at least it is an acknowledgement by the new ANC leadership that the full story on the arms deal hasn’t yet been told, despite the President’s protestations to the contrary.
» read more

After the Party‘s Foyles Launch

Andrew Feinstein

After the Party was launched in the UK at London’s famous Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London last month.

There was a great crowd of friends, family, journalists, activists and writers. My wonderful agent, Isobel Dixon, acted as MC for the evening and the writer Rachel Holmes (who also is Head of Literature and the Spoken Word at the South Bank Centre) introduced the book.
» read more

Arms Deal Seminar with the ISS at the Book Lounge

ISS GovernanceHere is the invitation to an arms-deal seminar in Cape Town which I will participate in – and which couldn’t have been timelier, given recent developments. If you want to know more about South Africa’s arms deal, please RSVP using the information below.

After Polokwane – Is the end of the arms deal saga in sight?

The allegation of corruption surrounding the multi-billion rand South African arms deal continues almost ten years after the contracts were concluded.

Investigations by State agencies and the media have fingered senior leaders in government and business. The fallout has proven divisive with the ruling party, leading to bruising battles between the institutions of state and fuelling public perceptions of political corruption. Following the ANC Polokwane conference power has shifted in Luthuli House with the ascendancy of Jacob Zuma as President, himself implicated in charges of corruption related to the arms deal.
» read more

London Book Launch of After the Party at Foyles

After the Party London Launch Invite

I’m pleased to invite Londoners to the UK launch of After the Party on 28 February at Foyles. (Full details below.)

For those wishing to know more about the book, these links should prove of interest:
» read more

The Arms Deal Report that Wasn’t

The website Ever-Faster News has published a review of After the Party by Paul Trewhela which may be of interest: click here to read it.

Meanwhile, here’s a piece I wrote recently for Independent Newspapers on the ANC’s decision to open a new, internal investigation into the Arms Deal, years after the original report, described in my book, was neutered:
» read more

The ANC in Crisis

Here is a piece on ANC succession that I wrote recently for UK readers.

Jacob Zuma is a barrel-chested man with a large, open face which often breaks into a brilliant smile. Down the right side of his face is a long scar which attests to a life of struggle and hardship. Arriving illiterate on Robben Island in his early twenties, Zuma revealed not only a great capacity for learning but a political shrewdness and toughness that after his release saw him rise to become head of ANC intelligence, in 1987.

With the advent of democracy in South Africa, Zuma became ANC leader in his Zulu-dominated home province of KwaZulu-Natal. He served as the province’s economics minister before being made the country’s deputy president by President Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

But in 2005, Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for corruption based on a relationship of “mutually beneficial symbiosis” with the deputy president. Mbeki fired his former ally, who soon faced his own corruption trial and was also charged with the rape of a young, HIV-positive family friend.
» read more

My Response to ANC Today

The response to After the Party has been extraordinary. Way beyond my expectations. Thanks so much to all who’ve bought and read the book for the support.

The on-going media coverage, in SA and abroad, has been great, with the unsurprising exception of ANC Today which attacked me, twice (see esp. “The Truth Will Prevail!”), by attacking journalists who wrote about the book. Bizarrely they denied me the right to respond by claiming I had abandoned the ANC, despite the fact that the President’s spokesperson had publicly reminded me a fortnight previously that as an ANC member I should express my views about the upcoming ANC election “in my branch” – !

» read more

Johannesburg Book Launch Remarks

After the Party was launched in Johannesburg on 6 Nov 2007; here are my notes from the occasion.

Thank you all for being here. It is great to see so many TAC comrades here, the true heroes of SA democracy. It is wonderful to see so many old and new friends, including a number of former colleagues, Mark Philips and Roddy Payne; Murphy Morobe, Laloo Chiba and Ahmed Kathrada – heroes of the struggle and early years of democracy, who characterise what is best about the ANC.

There are also many of the journalists, such as Sam Sole and Peta Thorneycroft, who have kept the arms deal and the crucial issues it evoked, alive. They represent one of the most crucial elements of our democracy in these strange but interesting times.

When I arrived in the country ten days ago I was asked “why this book, why now?” I answer that question with a quote from one of Africa’s foremost, and bravest novelists, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who writes in his novel Devil on the Cross:

» read more