Short of an Mbeki groupie’s assassination attempt on ANC leader Jacob Zuma (which is unlikely to happen considering the R1 million of taxpayer’s money spent each month for protection), come April, the great man will be state president.
Rumours abound that South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority is set to drop the case against old JZ. He must be dancing — it wasn’t necessary for his umshini to be brought to him, after all!
Slavish Zuma loyalists like to paint objections to the man’s accession to the presidency as being bigoted and irrational — more a knee-jerk response stemming from childish abhorrence than from grave reservations about the man’s morality and legal standing.
This slots in neatly with the belief that Zuma must be let off the hook regardless of whether he’s committed any wrongdoing because they claim he’s been viciously persecuted, ensnared in a political conspiracy to prevent him from becoming president.
But even if he has been a victim of former president Mbeki’s Machiavellian machinations that does not justify absolution. Advocating such a sinister agenda illustrates how absolutely desperate certain elements of the ANC are to ensure that their man gets to the top. So much personal interest is at stake that they will, it seems, quite happily ride roughshod over the judicial system and the very concept of the rule of law and legal processes, which form key components of our constitutional democracy, to ensure that Zuma moves into the Tuynhuys.
The most eloquent articulation of this policy comes from ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who, with his trademark profundity, told a rally: “If Zuma is corrupt, then we want him with all his corruption. We want him with all his weaknesses.”
We cannot underestimate the potency and determination of this sentiment, a sentiment effectively endorsed by the ANC because like everything outrageous and anti-democratic that Malema says, it is not contradicted or refuted by the party. And why should it be — when, after all, they agree?
Continuing with Mbeki’s tried and tested methods, the post-Polokwane elite will do everything in their power to ensure Zuma becomes president, using every legal and political avenue at their disposal.
Despite demanding he have his day in court, Zuma and his coterie of backers have tried everything they can to prevent this. Their obstructionist approach only seems to imply that the man is as guilty as he says he isn’t. But guilty or innocent, Zuma needs to face his charges (all 783 of them!) and battle it out in court — as one would expect any other South African to do. There are no excuses, no validity in creating an exception for Zuma.
South Africans who want our democracy to continue and prosper need to challenge this exceptionalism. We cannot give Zuma a free pass, ignoring the rule of law and judicial process, because if we do so we are effectively destroying not only the judiciary’s credibility and constitutionally-mandated powers, but also striking at the very heart of our democratic system. We will be dismantling the very order that people fought for so hard and suffered so much to create.
The survival of our constitutional democracy is at stake.
An edited version of this post was published on Thought Leader.