Jacob Zuma’s having a particularly bad week in the bookshops of this country - and it’s just getting worse.
On Sunday, investigative journalist Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers was released, and has been making headlines and flying off the shelves ever since. This as the author said he would be defending his book in court after he and his publisher received a cease and desist letter from the State Security Agency (SSA) and threats of legal action by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) over a “breach of confidential taxpayer information”.
On Thursday, Ronnie Kasrils - former intelligence minister and Zuma’s comrade-in-arms in the ANC’s armed wing - launched his book, A Simple Man, Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma, further damning the president.
Pauw’s book claims that the president has been on the payroll of criminal networks. Kasrils’ book claims that the highest echelons of the ANC and the SA Communist Party overlooked the real misgivings they had about Zuma - dating back to his days in exile - out of expediency.
“I wrote this book because people in the movement often come up to me and say, didn’t you see these flaws or was he a great guy who fell from grace?” Kasrils told journalists at his publisher’s offices in Johannesburg. “Those of us who worked closely with him in Mozambique and in Zambia saw the clues,” he said.
The book, written in seven parts, begins with Kasrils’ sense of betrayal when he overhears Zuma referring to him in Zulu as a useless white man after they both fail to infiltrate Swaziland from Mozambique in 1982. It then fast-forwards to Zuma’s trial for the rape of Fezekile “Khwezi” Khuzwayo, the daughter of a fellow comrade of both Zuma and Kasrils.
She phoned Kasrils immediately after the incident. “It’s still a shock for me, I can hear it like a recording every time I think of it: ‘Uncle Ronnie, Jacob Zuma has raped me’. Zuma was acquitted of rape in the highly publicised trial.
“A month before she died,” Kasrils said, “I took her and her mom to lunch.”
The book goes on to deal with the conspiracy theories that followed after Zuma became president: the e-mail saga, the spy tape scandal, the Browse Mole report.
“I’m trying to explain to our people who that man is and how we got to where we are today. We are in a deep dark hole, we’re speeding to the edge of the precipice. This country is in dire straits.
“I write about Zuma and the charlatans around him, the toadies who have grabbed power and are ripping off our country to fill their pockets. What motivates Zuma is to keep out of jail.
“It’s about his own self-preservation and safeguarding his ill-gotten gains. The funds that he has are part of a network in which he is totally integrated with a whole Mafioso which we call, thanks to (cartoonist) Zapiro, the Zuptas.”
South Africa, Kasrils said, was heading for economic implosion, with a third of the country depending on grants that the Treasury could ill afford. He feared bread riots and a possible imposition of martial law or perhaps even a coup by the “massive and highly militarised” police force.
“I wish I had been more honest about the problems in the ANC when I wrote Armed and Dangerous (his memoir) in 1993, but we weren’t in power yet, we were still under attack by (the apartheid regime). This time, this book deals with the warts in the ANC, where the time wasn’t appropriate before.”
His book, he said, would complement Pauw’s.
“I’ve taken care to look where we have come from and how people became rotten, whereas Jacques is looking at the rot right now.”
Yesterday Pauw, speaking to eNCA, accused Sars and the SSA of being contradictory.
“If my book is replete with inaccuracies, why are they then taking me to court, why do they want to charge me with the intelligence act?” Pauw said. “If my information is false, then I haven’t breached the law and I have written a piece of fiction.”
In the cease and desist letter sent by Kgoroeadira Mudau Inc, it was claimed that the book was “replete with inaccuracies” and contained “fake information” for which Pauw and his publisher would be held accountable.
“We will argue that we are legally in possession of materials and we have not broken any laws,” said Pauw.
On President Zuma’s tax affairs, and his comments in the National Assembly on Thursday, Pauw said: “It’s very interesting what he said - he hasn’t received any payments without declaring it.
“Up to 2014 Zuma had not declared his tax returns. It needs to be investigated. It’s not the first time that Zuma has lied in Parliament,” said Pauw.
Yesterday the Right2Know campaign and opposition parties slammed threats against Pauw and his publisher by the SSA and Sars.
They described the letter from the SSA as a threat not only against Pauw but against the media in general.
R2K said it also noted the threat by Sars to take the author to court.
“R2K views these as crude acts of censorship, aimed to intimidate investigative journalists and protect the corrupt and powerful,” said R2K.
The DA, IFP and African Christian Democratic Party also warned of threats against journalists.
The DA’s director of communications, Mabine Seabe, said it was clear that Zuma had been shaken by the book.
“It’s quite clear that this book has shaken President Zuma and his inner circle.
“Where in a democracy have you heard securocrats say what must be published and not published?” asked Seabe.