Saturday, 29 December 2007

Zuma Charged - the ANC's Reaction and the Future

Jacob Zuma was elected president of the ANC with a cloud over his head - the spectre of fresh corruption charges being levelled against him. These charges - on various counts of racketeering, money laundering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion - have now become a reality.

These are serious charges. They should come as no surprise. Shabir Shaik was convicted and is already serving time for corruption involving Jacob Zuma. Zuma's lawyers have managed to delay this process by contesting the admissibility of various documents submitted as evidence.

Once again Zuma's supporters are claiming that the charges are ‘groundless’ and that the prosecution is politically orchestrated. Zuma’s right hand man went as far as accusing President Thabo Mbeki himself of orchestrating this campaign.

The fact that the ANC went ahead with its conference and the election of Zuma under these circumstances casts a shadow over the organisation. The response of the ANC to the charges intensifies the shadow. The ANC’s NEC (National Executive Council) has stated that it will seek to have the charges dropped. The current members of the NEC were all elected as part of the Zuma ‘ticket’.

The political claims and accusations against Mbeki go against Zuma’s speech at the end of the conference in which he called for unity within the party. Attempts to block the prosecution would constitute political interference in the judicial process.

The fact that Zuma was elected so overwhelmingly by the ANC came as a surprise considering the fact that prosecution was imminent. It illustrates the fact that he has managed to convince a sizable body of supporters not only of his innocence, but also of a political conspiracy against him. It also illustrates the fact that many party members were dissatisfied with the status quo.

The main hope for South Africa lies in allowing due process to take its course. Zuma must face these charges in a court of law. Any other course of action would lead to disaster. The ANC must accept this process.


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