- Jacob Zuma might now be a former president but his legacy is likely to haunt the ANC and the nation for years to come
- Zuma’s upcoming trial for corruption could take years to complete and might only start after the 2019 election
- The official commission of inquiry into state capture could uncover more skeletons and Zuma is unlikely to escape untouched
Jacob Zuma might now be a former president, but his legacy is likely to haunt the African National Congress (ANC) and the country for many more years to come.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to reinstate 16 charges against Zuma for fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering means for the first time in South Africa’s history a former president will have to defend himself in a criminal court.
The trial is very likely to run for a number of years and could, if Zuma’s past legal history is any indication, take years to start. The fact that Zuma has been charged is positive if only to prove to the broader public that nobody is above the law.
Briefly.co.za gathers that Zuma’s trial carries some very real threats to the ANC and the new image the party is trying to sell to the electorate.
The trial will remind the electorate that Zuma is a product of the ANC and was at one stage a rising star of the party. Zuma was elected as leader of the party on two occasions and before his 2018 recall, enjoyed near universal support from senior members of the party.
Despite being dogged by controversies such as Nkandla, the unexplained sacking of two finance ministers (Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan) both of which damaged an already fragile economy and most recently state capture allegations, the ANC protected Zuma in Parliament and helped him to survive multiple motions of no confidence votes.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) also rejected calls to recall Zuma on various occasions, it seems unlikely that the ANC will escape the Zuma trial untainted.
Zuma could also turn destructor in chief if he feels he has no other option and might air dirty laundry in open court. Opposition parties can and will use any information gleaned in this fashion to remind the electorate of just how toxic the ANC became under Zuma’s leadership.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will hope Zuma’s longstanding record of delaying legal matters to the last possible moment will mean that his trial will only start after the 2019 election.
If the trial takes place in the run-up to the election, the ANC’s message of purification and renewal will suffer and Ramaphosa will look like a lame duck.
Meanwhile, the official commission of inquiry into state capture is also likely to take a number of years to complete and once it is Zuma could face charges which would make his current legal woes look like a traffic offence.
It seems unlikely that Zuma will emerge from the state capture probe unscathed and another trial will yet again keep him in the headlines for many years to come.
The bottom line is this: While Zuma’s presidency is over, his toxic legacy will continue to be at the forefront of South African politics for years to come and could do untold damage to the party which he claims to love.
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