Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, appeared on Saturday to have obtained a pardon of imminent incarceration for contempt of judicial charges after the country’s highest-ranking judges agreed to hear his challenge to a 15-month jail sentence handed out the week. pass.
The supreme court ordered police to arrest the 79-year-old man if he did not turn himself in to authorities on Sunday after he failed to appear before a corruption investigation earlier this year.
Zuma was ousted as president amid multiple corruption scandals in 2018 after nine years in power and has consistently refused to cooperate with judges investigating wrongdoing during his tenure.
In recent days, the veteran politician has tried to garner political support, particularly in his KwaZulu-Natal province stronghold, where he appeared briefly in public on Saturday, but his efforts to spark wider protests over his impending arrest have failed until now.
A small crowd gathered in front of Zuma’s farm, Nkandla. Supporters included some two dozen women who said they traveled more than 300 kilometers overnight from neighboring Eastern Cape province.
“We support Zuma and we want to know what will happen to him, that’s why we are here,” said Cecilia Nongce, 43, who wore a traditional blue and red Nguni blanket to protect herself from the cold.
“We love Nxamalala,” he said in Zulu, referring to Zuma by the name of his traditional clan, adding that they expected him to come out to speak with them.
A group of other supporters arrived in two minibuses waving ANC flags and wearing white T-shirts with the inscription ‘wenzeni uZuma’, in Zulu meaning “What has Zuma done?”
South African analysts were stunned by the Supreme Court’s decision to consider defying the former president to his own decision.
“If Zuma goes to jail, we can say that we have the rule of law in South Africa. If you don’t, we won’t. There is no new evidence, so this means that the system is adapting to politics and people everywhere will be very disappointed by that, ”said Ralph Mathekga, author and political commentator.
In its ruling last week, the South African Supreme Court noted that the former president had “repeatedly reiterated that he would rather be imprisoned than cooperate” with the corruption investigation.
Zuma then filed a 30-page statement, accusing the justices of “exasperation” and suggesting that the supreme court “Reassess whether you have acted within the constitution”.
The statement also said that Zuma’s health would be at risk in prison because he could not receive the care he needs and could contract Covid-19.
The contempt of court charges were related to Zuma’s continued failure to appear in the corruption investigation led by Vice President of the South African Supreme Court Raymond Zondo in February.
Dozens of witnesses have described what appears to have been widespread corruption and mismanagement under the Zuma government, but the former president has testified only once, in July 2019, before going on strike days later. Deny all wrongdoing.
In February, Zondo said he would seek an order from the constitutional court to force Zuma to testify or go to prison because otherwise “the message … sent is that people can ignore or ignore subpoenas and court orders with impunity …[and] there will be very little left of our democracy ”.
Zuma has accused Zondo of being biased and of saying that the accusations against him were made by various actors involving foreign intelligence agencies.
Most of the alleged corruption investigated by the commission involves three brothers from a wealthy Indian business family, the Guptas, who won lucrative government contracts and were allegedly even able to elect cabinet ministers.
The South African media have supported the Constitutional Court.
“His staunch fans tout his contribution to… the transition to a successful democracy. They are absolutely correct; Zuma was a patriot, and as a patriot he should submit to the laws and institutions of this country. ” said the Independent online news website.
Mathekga said most South Africans wanted the rule of law to be upheld. “If the constitutional [supreme] the court is wavering, what does it say about our institutions? ” he said.
Zuma’s successor as president, Cyril Ramaphosa, a labor activist turned wealthy mogul, has taken steps to root out corruption. Ramaphosa took office as South African president after a bitter internal battle within the ANC and amid public outrage over allegations of mismanagement and systemic corruption.
The anger has been fueled by a series of scandals involving huge sums corruptly won in government contracts for emergency supplies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and grants to support those most in need.
In recent days, new Covid restrictions have been introduced in an attempt to curb a sharp increase in cases driven by the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, weak countermeasures, and public fatigue with existing restrictions.
Zuma separately faces 16 counts of fraud, corruption and organized crime related to an arms deal in 1999, of which he has pleaded not guilty.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism