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Sun Oct 26 06:29:37 SAST 2014

Zuma's dignity has all the protection it needs and deserves

The Times Editorial | 13 November, 2012 00:02

The Times Editorial: The contribution of the SA Communist Party to the liberation of this country is undeniable. In fact, the history of the ruling party, the ANC, is intertwined with that of the SACP.

The SACP's past leaders - the likes of Moses Mabhida, Moses Kotane , Joe Slovo and Chris Hani - led from the front and put the interests of the movement above those of individuals.

But what we see happening today in the party that was formed in blood and sweat is worrying. Yesterday, the SACP in KwaZulu-Natal called for legislation to "protect the dignity" of President Jacob Zuma.

The party's provincial secretary, Themba Mthembu, said the legislation would prevent "visits" to Zuma's homestead in Nkandla, which is under investigation following allegations that millions of rands of taxpayers' money will be used to renovate it.

Mthembu also wants the legislation to stop "insults" being hurled at the president, whether in the form of paintings or newspaper cartoons.

Though the SACP is entitled to make observations and recommendations about how the public should behave when dealing with the head of state, its call for legislation to protect Zuma's image is counter-revolutionary.

Zuma does not need a special law to protect his dignity. Our constitution is sufficient to protect his image and that of the office he occupies.

Mthembu should know that, when you start enacting laws to protect individuals, there will always be a temptation to craft new ones.

South Africa should at all costs avoid the route taken by some of the leaders in our region whose governments have made it a criminal offence to comment unfavourably about them.

Mthembu should revisit the SACP's teachings to see how the party's past leaders discarded populism in the ranks and in the tripartite alliance.

He should know better.

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