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I Want My Day In Court! But Not Today.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 24, 2019 02:12

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Procrastination is a human failure. But fifteen years? As President Trump asks for a trial, a South African politician, faced with corruption charges in 2004, insisted that he wanted his day in court. And an able legal team, financed by the State while he was President, has used every trick in the book, in fact in every book, to avoid just that - having his day in court. Does that begin to sound familiar?

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (his middle name, in Zulu, is said to mean "one who smiles while causing you harm"), the unschooled son of a single domestic worker mother, was arrested and imprisoned for conspiring to overthrow the Apartheid government at twenty. He served time with Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders, then went into exile and rose to head the underground intelligence arm of the "Spear of the Nation" military movement. 

Dancing to power. Photo Greg Marinkowich

He worked his way into power, and the then President Thabo Mbeki appointed him as Vice-President in 1999, amongst others, to secure support of the powerful Zulu nation. 

In 2004, Zuma's financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, was charged, and eventually found guilty, of corruption, having used his position to ensure that the French company Thales win lucrative armaments contracts. Zuma and other important ANC politicians were implicated, but not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. (Incidentally Shaik served some time in prison hospital, and was released due to terminal illness in 2009. At the time of this writing he is alive and well, and plays a mean game of golf. Miracles happen.)

President Mbeki and his Vice President fell out and charges following on from the Shaik case were being considered, which Zuma challenged as tainted by political considerations, while insisting that he wanted his day in court to clear his name. Soon after, in a palace coup, Zuma's faction inside the ruling ANC removed Mbeki and installed Zuma as President. 

As we speak, a discredited Zuma is still fighting to have the case dismissed. Numerous challenges later his lawyers are claiming that the Supreme Court of Appeal may take a different philosophical approach to granting a permanent stay of prosecution from the Provincial High Court, which had dismissed the request. At the same time Zuma is facing a mounting number of claims that he had facilitated numerous cronies to hollow out state structures ranging from the Revenue Services to the State Security Services, the Public Prosecutor's office and the Public Protector (the national ombudsman).

Facing the music. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA/POOL

It is estimated that a third of the national GDP had been stolen by various corrupt agents and in shady deals during the Zuma Presidency. Far more serious is the loss of trust in the political system, the systematic loading of key institutions by cronies and sympathizers of the Zuma faction, and in creating a culture of intitlement. A minister, now back in a position of power after some time in quarantine, once remarked that all leaders have skeletons in the cupboard, but as long as these were "smallanyana" skeletons, it was okay. And despite hopes that the new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, might be clean, he has to work with a party and government that is tainted. 

Skeletons in the cupboard, Mr President? ZAPIRO

President Zuma's Stalingrad defence came to mind when President Trump demanded, of the impeachment process, "I want a trial."

I know where he can take lessons...

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 24, 2019 02:12

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Source: Mediaite
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