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Presidents who subvert democracy

Zuma will play the game to the final denouement

Oh yes, it can be tough being a former president, but make no mistake, Zuma will play the game in the way he know best, by subordinating the law to politics.

Zuma is skilled at playing the victim, reckoning that his best defence is to rally support within the ANC, where he still enjoys support, and raise the political costs of pursuing him through the courts.

He knows well that if he is successfully prosecuted for corruption and sentenced to jail, even if only for a symbolic time, those who backed him during the era of state capture and shared the spoils will fear that the prosecutors will be emboldened to come knocking on their door.

The ANC remains riven with factionalism, and with President Ramaphosa seemingly unable to stamp his authority upon the party, Zuma is likely to play for a political deal which will continue to allow him his freedom, even if he is convicted in court.

Democracy and accountability

For Trump, the impeachment process is only a forerunner of charges likely to be filed by New York State relating to his tax returns, very possibly alleging fraud and criminality.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court rebuke to Zuma in its latest judgment reminds him that no-one, not even the president, is above the law.

The apex court is reminding Zuma that the demand for accountability is at the heart of democracy. The U.S. Democrats’ drive to impeach Trump is restating that same principle: that being a former president should not grant any special privileges. The message is clear. Democracy demands that both Trump and Zuma be held to account.

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Roger Southall is Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

One comment

  1. Mr. Tuhaburwa has good company!!

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