William Gumede: This fiasco doesn't clear him – or the ANC

Share
Related Topics

ANC President Jacob Zuma, a man famous for easy speech and a ready song, was yesterday "emotional" and "speechless" when the charges against him were dropped. He was evidently relieved that he was finally "cleared" of the cloud of corruption allegations that have dogged him for years now.

But the dubious manner in which the corruption charges against Mr Zuma were cancelled is unlikely to clear his name, or restore his credibility. In fact, it is likely to further undermine him. Only defending himself fully in court will restore his reputation, and that of the ANC.

Twice now, South Africa's "Teflon" politician has been cleared of corruption charges on procedural or technical grounds. But when prosecutor Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges yesterday, he made it clear that their substance has not been challenged.

Mr Mpshe said the case against Mr Zuma was dropped because a prosecutor appeared to have taken political instructions from opponents of the ANC president.

But the transcripts of the conversations do not prove his innocence. Surely the prosecuting authorities should have allowed the courts to pronounce whether they could be trusted.

Simply put, they seem to have buckled under the pressure. In 2006, Mr Zuma's lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, outlined the ANC president's scorched-earth political and legal strategy to quash his corruption charges: "We [will] fight them in every room and in every street."

This meant Zuma supporters almost daily attacked the media, the judiciary and prosecuting authorities, marching against them, and portraying them as "counter-revolutionary" or as the "enemy" that must be eliminated, to intimidate them into submission.

It appeared that for Mr Zuma and his backers, it did not matter whether democratic institutions were battered in the process, their priority was to quash the corruption charges.

The way in which the prosecution has crumbled under the pressure suggests that that strategy was successful. The credibility of South Africa's prosecuting authorities is now also in tatters. ANC leaders who celebrated Zuma's acquittal do not appear interested in the damage done to South Africa's democratic institutions. If Mr Zuma wins the elections on 22 April, which is more than likely given the paucity of the opposition, he will have presidential power, but he will lack the moral authority to go with it.

William Gumede is the author of the forthcoming book, 'The Democracy Gap: Africa's Wasted Years' (Zed Books)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory