Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s prison sentence was tried on Wednesday June 30 “Unconstitutional” by its foundation, a strong message to its supporters, some of whom are already converging on the home of the former leader, who has until Sunday to become a prisoner.
The former head of state, 79, who the day after his conviction was all smiles, in costume, in photos posted on Twitter, was sentenced by the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, to fifteen month firm, in a decision that cannot be appealed.
In 24 hours, the news has already sparked calls on social networks, the most fervent supporters of the charismatic and willingly provocative leader setting out for his residence in Nkandla, in the Zulu countryside (east). If he does not go to a police station on his own within the next few days, the police are ordered to come and arrest him and take him to jail to serve his sentence.
Perhaps counting on a popular wave by then, the Jacob Zuma Foundation dismissed a ruling in a statement “Not in accordance with our Constitution”, accusing the judges of having let their « sentiment » and their “Anger”. The ex-president is accused of plundering public money during his nine years in power (2009-2018). Stuck in scandals, he had been forced to resign.
“He hasn’t lost his appetite”
Since the creation in 2018 of the commission responsible for investigating state corruption, the former president, already implicated by some forty testimonies, has been stepping up the maneuvers to avoid having to explain himself, which has ended up sending him to prison. According to its foundation, the judges who “Are not above the law” have “Advantaged” a commission whose legitimacy Mr. Zuma had challenged by accusing him of “Bias”.
Without addressing the legal question, his spokesperson said, before this announcement, that the former president “Keep your spirits up, it bounces like a tennis ball”. Mr. Zuma, known for his unfailing joviality, “Did not lose your appetite”, joined Mzwanele Manyi, “His conscience is intact”.
Judge Raymond Zondo, chairman of the anti-corruption commission who requested his imprisonment, and with whom Jacob Zuma had engaged in recent months a showdown based on personal attacks and legal recourse, for his part welcomed the same day in press conference a “Very important judgment for our country”.
Jacob Zuma has testified only once, in July 2019, before the anti-corruption commission. He had quickly slammed the door, taking offense to being treated like a ” accused “.
Some also fear that the condemnation of the former president could lead to a serious political crisis within the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). Already undermined by a fratricidal factional war, the former head of state still has loyalists there opposed to the current president.
Successor of Mr. Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa has made the fight against corruption a battle horse, but he himself was called to testify before the commission.
The former leader is also on trial for a bribe case of more than twenty years. He is accused of having pocketed more than 4 million rand (some 235,000 euros) from the French Thales, which was one of the companies awarded a hefty arms contract with a total value of around 2.8 Billions of Euro’s.
Jacob Zuma has also been sentenced several times in recent months to pay, out of his personal funds, legal costs estimated at more than 1.5 million euros.