I am certain that I am not alone in wishing Jacob Zuma a full and speedy recovery. I am certain that many in the country do not wish to see him ill and suffering if it means not having the satisfaction of seeing him back in court on trial for corruption. In fact, I know that I would feel particularly disappointed if he were to see the end of his days before a judgement is delivered.
This is on the assumption that Zuma’s illness is actually real. Which seems unlikely, given that his sudden health concern is taken directly out of the ANC playbook.
Zuma has followed the guidelines to the letter. He began by pondering what it is that he has actually done, moved on to the “I demand my day in court to prove my innocence!” And then spent a decade avoiding just that. He has intimated that he has dark and juicy secrets what will be spilled if this continues and alluded to the idea that there were unnamed international forces at play who sole reason for waking up in the morning was to do him harm. He played the victim, the aggressor and is now moving into the “But I am a weak old man” phase. Which of course he wouldn’t have been if he had his day in court like everyone wanted, all those years back.
The current strategy is the sick in hospital one and is close to the end of the options. What remains is the “I am being poisoned” approach which is coupled with the demand that he is treated in Russia where apparently, they are good at this sort of thing. We will never of course get to know who is behind the poison plot, but it won’t matter because by then he will be enjoying the rest of his days in the warm sunshine of St Petersburg. Which is beautiful no time of the year, in terms of weather. If Zuma does “shake” it up a bit (see what I did there with an allusion to Shabir Shaik), he might seek treatment in Cuba which is indeed warmer and which relationship with the ANC has been suspicious and rotten from even before the arms deal.
News that the Pietermaritzburg High Court has postponed former President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial until 9 September came as no surprise. Zuma and French arms company, Thales, face charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering over the multi-billion rand deal. The basis for the postponement is a concern around Zuma’s health, and the reason that he is not currently in prison where he is meant to be serving his sentence for contempt of court. Zuma’s medical team have until August the 20th to submit a report on his condition. Why it should take that long to write out “Skoolsiekte” or “Bunkalitis” is a wonder. But then with the pandemic, maybe the doctors are busy treating patients who are actually sick.
The demand for a medical report places the doctors in a difficult position. Whereas there is small chance that the man is indeed ill, there cannot be more than a handful of people in the country who believe that he is. And whilst Carl and Ace and the twins, along with a few from the ANC Women’s League might be lighting candles and holding prayer vigils, the rest of the country are shaking their heads and rolling their collective eyes at predictability and the lack of imagination of it all. Add the Shabir Shaik context to the situation, where he was released on medical grounds, so that he could continue with his golfing hobby, and there is hardly a person who believes that Jacob Zuma is ill. Something that his medical team are now being asked to show.
It will be interesting to see who the poor medical scapegoat they get to sign that document will be. And how soon they choose to make Cuba their home.
That said, the last laugh will be on us if he is indeed seriously sick and even more so if he dies from whatever this is that he claims to be suffering from. Worse would be if he is actually being poisoned and only Russia holds the key to the treatment.
Jacob Zuma will do what he can to avoid appearing in court. He will use whatever means he has available and will not care about the consequences. He is a man who has, over and over again, put himself ahead of the country. Although there is a chance that he is ill, the reality is that he has so little credibility that nothing short of an open casket will convince me that he is. Or at least, was.