Friday, 25 May 2012

The Thing to Remember with Zuma

I do enjoy me a good Streissand Effect, and as such will happily join the millions sharing around Murray's The Spear. Here you go:

I tend to agree with Owen Swart's assessment of the painting and the subsequent shouting about it. The only thing I'd add to that, which Sipho Hlongwane has already covered nicely, is that obviously the ANC is only making such a massive fuss, perhaps even any fuss at all, because they'd rather have everyone focused on something trivial that they can rally the troops around, than on other, more important and more thorny issues.

What other issues? Well, there are plenty; South Africa has, among other things, perennial crime problems, an awkward 1½-party democracy, persistent apartheid-induced inequalities and bigotry, and a tragically inadequate service-delivery effort from government. It's hardly shocking that the ruling party would want to distract people from their short-comings in addressing these serious problems.

But let's assume we're only interested in Zuma, since he's the focus of the painting. What's he got to hide, personally? The main thing, I believe, is the fact that he should probably have ended up in Westville Prison, instead of the Union Buildings.

Somehow, people seem to have forgotten the Shabir Shaik trial and the subsequent legal battles that Zuma dodged with all his might. And I think it's vitally important that we keep that story in mind. To be clear, a court never found Zuma guilty of corruption. But that wasn't because there was no evidence, and there's still a good case to believe that Zuma probably was guilty of serious corruption, receiving big bribes as part of the stupid rip-off set of arms deals South Africa blew billions on (which I have mentioned in this blog before, though that was about the Gripen fighters, while Zuma's corruption was connected to the Valour-class frigates).

First, the Shaik trial revealed that Zuma's financial advisor accepted bribes on Zuma's behalf, so that Zuma would back the "right" horse. There is no way in which that reflects well on Zuma. At best, he's such a bumbling financial and political fool that he couldn't possibly have understood why Shaik was always handing him huge piles of money or explain why he chose to put his support behind Thint. And he's now president? At worst (and Occam's Razor would seem to cut this way), he was totally aware of the whole thing, freely supporting it.

And the latter was the basis for the subsequent prosecution of Zuma himself. As I understand it, the evidence gathered for that was not insubstantial; the evidence carried over from the Shaik trial alone would have given Zuma's lawyers quite a work-out. But in the end, too much evidence was thrown out of court on procedural grounds. Now, I'm all for maintaining fair, honest and logical standards of evidence in the courts, but we still have to groan when everyone agrees that the evidence was solid, except that the investigators got it by the wrong procedures. That implies that guilt should have been provable, until someone got impatient or lazy or stupid, which is a crap way to lose a case.

The bottom line of all that is that, while he may be officially, legally not guilty, it still seems quite hard to believe that Zuma didn't happily cash in at least a couple million rands worth of bribes and other corrupt fees. He most likely should have gone to jail. Instead, he's used his presidential pardon power to get his friend Shabir Shaik out of jail, in a transparent "fuck you!" to the idea of justice.

Since I'm posting this on Towel Day, let me close with a very appropriate Douglas Adams quote:
Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Consilience #47: Now featuring more Me!!!

I'm audible for a third time! The Consilientists asked me to be a guest host on their podcast again, and I think this one also went pretty damn well. Again, everything went very smoothly and simply, and it remains great fun for me. My contribution was not quite as well researched as I would have liked, but it went well, and the other guys had some really fascinating stories this time.

Angela sat out this one, blaming pregnancy or something similarly trivial, so it was just three of us, which was a new dynamic for me. Harder to get a word in that way, I think. But nothing serious. I'm just rambling now to fill out this post a little more. Enough yet? Hmm, maybe just a bit more. A little bit more. Good. Enough.

You can find the file and the show notes here:

Other Blogs Ewes May Enjoy

It occurs to me that I have quite few friends now who have blogs of their own, several of which may be of interest to both of you who follow this blog. Plus, I like making lists. You should see some of the fucking awesome lists I've made. This is also an opportunity to see which blogging services they're all using. So, let's share a bit. Some are updated frequently and well, others have died or barely left the ground yet. But they all exist, at the time I write this, so I present them here in order of the bloggers' maternal grandmothers' maiden names:

Official Blog of Writer / Film Director Jordan Harland
Jordan's always really busy, so this hasn't moved much, but I'm sure he'll add neat stuff eventually.

Splice of Life
An effort to connect random interweaving strands of life
Estee's blog has changed a lot since it started and a lot of the early content is gone. Usually an interesting read.

The Gibbering Geek
(no subtitle)
Scot's blog seems to have stalled early, so I'm not quite sure what he had in mind for it.

Mercurial Siren
Creativity. Cybernetics. Carnage. (What it wants to be when it's all grown up)
The art and thoughts of Sita, very varied.

Pen's Personal Pages
(no subtitle)
Yvette's cooking and knitting and geekery. I skip a lot of the former stuff.

Sez Says
(no subtitle)
Sarah's marketing site. I don't really read it.

Up a Mammoth's Nostril
It may get hairy...
Sarah's personal blog. Much more interesting.

Jonny Nexus Online
(no clear subtitle)
Home of Jonny Nexus (a.k.a. Johnny Nexus), the great gaming writer, formerly and currently of Critical Miss.

01 and The Universe
(no subtitle)
Owen's fairly skeptical blog.

Ionian Enchantment
(no subtitle)
Mike's fairly skeptical blog.

The Skeptic Detective
Science. Skepticism. Atheism.
Angela's fairly skeptical blog.