Another Zuma jailing a ticking South African time bomb


Former South African president Jacob Zuma

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE last time former president, Jacob Zuma, was sent to jail over contempt of court charges, more than 300 people lost their lives amid protests.

The troubled economy suffered billions in losses as South Africa degenerated into its worst socio-political crisis.

Thus, a Supreme Court ruling that the ex-president must return to jail is akin to a declaration of civil war. This is a ticking time bomb in a crisis-torn country that while priding itself as a model of democracy globally, has a propensity to self-destruct.

It has been more than a week since the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma must go back to prison and complete his time behind bars.

Ironically, he is under scrutiny from an administration headed by a president facing corruption charges after stashes of undeclared foreign currency were allegedly found in his possession.

The fact that Zuma is in Russia, coincidentally at a time relations between the country and South Africa are apparently shaky, add a new dimension to the crisis engulfing Zuma.

This is the latest curveball to current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, whose government stands accused of influencing the courts to settle political scores with the former president.

Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma in 2018 at the height of the infighting ravaging the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and despite a pledge to unite the continent’s oldest liberation movement, his spell at the helm of ANC has left the party more divided than ever.

The economy is on a freefall despite businessman Ramaphosa’s charm offensive.

Recently, the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma must go back to prison. It ruled that his release on medical parole in September 2021, two months after imprisonment, was improper.

Thus, he has to return and complete his 15-month sentence for defying a commission he established to probe corruption that reigned during his tenure between 2009 and his expulsion by ANC for Ramaphosa to take over.

Therefore, South Africa is tense considering how the country descended into bloodshed when Zuma was initially sent to jail for 15 months in July 2021.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) is apparently stoking the flames by demanding that the former president returns from Russia, where is reportedly on treatment, and to serve time.

“It has become strikingly evident that former President Jacob Zuma has turned into a fugitive from justice after extending his stay in Russia,” said Janho Engelbrecht, DA Shadow Minister of Correctional Services.

Zuma, who retains control of an ANC faction, and the government are in a legal deadlock.

Ramaphosa’s administration, by the Supreme Court’s ruling, is that Zuma must return to jail.

Zuma’s foundation insists his health is a priority.

“Just so it’s clear, Zuma did not escape lawful custody,” the foundation stated.

“Zuma was never discharged unlawfully. He was placed on medical parole, not discharged.”

It is not clear what ailment Zuma is suffering from, in Russia. Besides swaying a faction of the ANC, Zuma wields influence among the Zulu, the most populous tribe in this country of 60 million people.

At the 2021 protests, Ramaphosa, who hails from the northern Limpopo, claimed the demonstrations were an ethnic ploy to overthrow him.

He has been juggling a tough schedule keeping his factionalised party united and defending his country’s foreign policy.

Relations between Russia and South Africa were in the spotlight recently.

That is when courts compelled the latter to arrest Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in his country’s conflict with Ukraine.

Putin was scheduled to attend the Brazil, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) summit in August but because of his legal wrangles, will no longer attend.

– CAJ News

scroll to top