South Africa: Rule of law in the dock
South Africa: Rule of law in the dock
BY UBAKA OKOFU
Had Jacob Gedleyihiekisa Zuma not challenged the might of the Constitutional Court of South Africa by allowing himself to be intoxicated by a flatulent ego, the mayhem which has so far left no fewer than 117 persons dead, and property worth millions of South African Rand looted and vandalized would not have occurred in the first place.
Jacob Zuma threw dust at a ferocious wind, and it has returned to him in the most devastating way. I am sure he has learnt not to take the judiciary for granted. Its’ unfortunate that the 15 months committal handed down to him for contempt ex facie curiae would have rubbished the reputation he has built for himself over the years as one of the early freedom fighters who fought to enthrone the South African democracy which is 27years old now. Its’an irony that Zuma was demeaning the democracy he put his life on the line to install in South Africa.
It is not the first time Zuma would have a brawl with the South African law. But, this is the first time things didn’t go his way under a post Apartheid South Africa. In conduct and carriage, Zuma is least when compared to his predecessors. Nelson Mandela, Thabo Nbeki and several other leaders of the African National Congress, (ANC) were not as reckless with the law as Zuma has shown in his last days as President of South Africa . He is believed to be exuberant, particularly his insatiable taste for women and expensive life style. Little wonder he was accused of corruption, which also prevented him from completing his term as in 2018.
Expectedly, Zuma danced right into the hands of his political traducers as he would want the rest of us to believe. It cannot be unimagined how the 79yrs Zuma would have escaped the knots awaiting him on exit from office as President of South Africa. A few times in office, Zuma was dragged before the law. But, always, the law could not have a firm grip of Zuma whose influence in government was uncontainable and infectious. But, everyday they say is for the thief, one day is for the owner. The law has finally caught with Zuma!
The allegations against him, particularly his association with the Gupta brothers who had since fled South Africa on account of shady arms’ deal in collaboration with some officials of South African government to the sum of 5bn US dollars have been simmering while still in office, but for his immunity he was spared the embarrassment of being investigated. Now that a new sheriff is in town, it is only proper that Zuma should answer to his shenanigans while in office.
His invitation to a panel of inquiry which has all the appurtenances of a conventional law court was to be the beginning of Zuma’s long walk to prison. And, his refusal to show up at the penal has thus quickened his walk to the prison, a place where Zuma may probably mark his 90th year birthday.
Going to prison might not be to strange to Zuma having been to prison several times during the struggle against the obnoxious Apartheid regime. Yet, going to prison at 89years can be the worst octogenarian experience Zuma would tell in his dying days.
As the youth leader of the youth wing of African National Congress, (ANC), Zuma was jailed for 10years for the first time in 1963. Upon being released in the 1970s, Zuma, for several attempts at his lives fled South Africa like other freedom fighters. His return to South Africa in 1990 was as a result of the abolition of Apartheid rule and the progress recorded in librating South Africa.
There are different dimensions to the violent unrest of South African youths following Zuma’s committal for contempt ex facie curiae. First, the vest population of those who were involved in the violence are unemployed South African youths. The axiom that an idol mind is the devil’s workshop can be better implied here. It remains a paradox that these youths see Zuma as a hero who was being persecuted for standing in the gap for his people who are not only those from KwaZulu Natal in this circumstance, but an entire South Africa. How can an ex president who ought to be reprimanded and distanced for incompetence and corruption is being celebrated ? The answer remains that its’ only in Africa that things like this happens. Let me quickly add here that the assumption or believe that the South African democracy was better than other African countries was a ruse as its’ equally unfounded.
Democracy still remains somewhat alien to Africans. African leaders see themselves as demi gods. For them, only subordinates are to be accounted to the law. They believe that leadership is about being above the law and unaccountable to the led. Perhaps, this has informed Zuma’s refusal to honour and attend the panel of inquiry on invitation. South African youths, like most African youths have demonstrated very low understanding of the rule of law. They failed to understand that if Zuma is not brought to book, a bad precedent would have been laid.