Few politicians (let alone Presidents!) can sport a rap sheet like the former deputy president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.
2005: Zuma indicted for a corruption case which eventually collapsed on procedural grounds. However, it didn't stop Thabo Mbeki, the current President of South Africa from firing Zuma as Deputy President.
2006: Zuma acquitted of rape charges and still won around sixty percent of delegate votes.
2007: Zuma is being charged with money laundering, corruption, fraud and racketeering and will have to appear in graft trial.
South Africa seems to be a glutton for punishment. Why didn't they just oust this man back in 2005? So there have been no actual convictions, but like my grandmother used to say - "where there's this much smoke, there's fire."
Zuma's lawyer, Michael Hulley said the current trial will begin on August 14th, 2008. In a statement, he went on to say:
"These charges will be vigorously defended, in the context of the belief that the Scorpions (NPA) have acted wrongly and with improper motive calculated to discredit Mr. Zuma and ensure that he play no leadership role in the political future of our country."
One guy on the street, said this could seriously jeopardize Zuma's chances of becoming South Africa's next President.
Jeopardize? You mean he could still be elected?
I could never see a candidate running for office in the United States, England or Australia, that had the same past as Jacob Zuma. First of all, true to American tradition, it would come to light during the elections, and then forget it - there's no way that a Bible belt strangled nation like the U.S. could ever forgive such a past.
Actually I couldn't forgive rape - and there you have it. I figure I'm a fairly good example of the common people and I wouldn't vote for him. While he may be innocent of the current crimes (though it's doubtful) a suspected rapist sure wouldn't make it into my list of trusted politicians.
A statement from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said:
"An indictment has been issued for trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court commencing on Aug 4, 2008."
It's amazing to me that the South African people don't simply roll their eyes when they hear that Zuma is in deep doo doo again. After all, it's becoming part of his resume these days. Astonishingly Zuma was even elected leader of the African National Congress (ANC) last month after a rough battle with President Thabo Mbeki.
What do South Africans see in this guy?
Of course blacks comprise seventy five percent of the troubled population in South Africa; most blacks are uneducated (by choice) and with the dissolution of Apartheid, all are permitted to vote.
Unsurprisingly, Zuma's supporters are claiming that it's a conspiracy to deny him the presidency. If it is, where do I sign up? Recently in a token statement given to the BBC., Zuma said that he would step down as ANC leader if he was convicted.
What do you think? Will he? Personally, I think he'll find a reason to stay. There's no way he's about to give up the prestige, recognition and future ambitions for presidency that he still has now.
Ludicrously, when Zuma was asked if he knew that papers had been served on him, he told South African Broadcasting Corporation:
"It's the first time I'm hearing that. I haven't heard of anything of that nature."
How convenient. The man has not only been served with papers, but it's been all over the news for days, how could he not know? The opposition Democratic Alliance Party called for Zuma to face the charges and accept the outcome of a trial. In a statement to the press, they said:
"Jacob Zuma has long since demanded his day in court, and has repeatedly made public statements that a legal proceeding will exonerate him from all suspicions ... yet he has done everything possible to delay and avoid the judicial process taking its course."
As expected, currency trading took a hit in light of what has happened: Prior to the news about Zuma, South Africa's rand was 6.8030 to the dollar then eased to 6.8398 after the news.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has and will continue to investigate allegations that Zuma accepted bribes and committed fraud in connection with an arms deal involving a subsidiary of a French company.
Investors are becoming increasingly worried about the country's stability, with the prospect that the front runner for presidency could be embroiled in a lengthy trial which may overlap the next general election in 2009.
I would be too.
Fishy is as fishy sounds:
Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik who was indicted for corruption; theft; fraud and money laundering; seemed to implicate Zuma in his own corruption.
President Mbeki, said:
"In the interest of the honourable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system and our country, it would be best to release the honourable Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the cabinet."
To me it's like all politics - everyone is corrupt, they all cover for each other (unless you're the opposition,) and the public have no alternative but to vote for the best of the worst.