Only in the new South Africa. A person indicted on 16 serious corruption charges by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) about to undergo a major lengthy trial could soon, feasibly, be the country’s president before the trial is over.
The ethical step would, in the best interests of the country, be for Zuma to step aside and wait until the outcome of the trial before re-entering politics. But ethics is not something Zuma is familiar with.
The consequences of him staying in the running for the country’s leadership will be disastrous. Since the presidency controls parleymunt and parleymunt controls the NPA (the appointees) via the Justice Ministry, the conflict of interest is obvious.
Remember, this is an individual who is not averse to accepting ‘donations’ from friends in dubious places, hence the corruption allegations.
Effectively, Zuma would be able to interfere in his own trial and if not him, his followers and supporters surely will but, be that as it may, in the unlikely event that Zuma does not interfere in the NPA and the trial runs its course, if found guilty, the vision of the President of South Africa being marched off to prison is a calamity a country on its knees can ill afford.
Already his supporters have sworn to create mass disturbances if he is convicted. How much worse will it be if he is the president?
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Trial 'Will Not Halt Zuma's Ascent'. Should the trial of ANC president Zuma go ahead as planned in August, he could still be sworn in as national president as an accused person if the ANC wins next April's election.
At the weekend, the tripartite alliance reaffirmed its support for Zuma at its summit in Midrand, saying: "We will not only be accompanying him to court, but to the Union Buildings as the next president of SA."
Zuma faces 16 charges, including corruption, and awaits the outcome of a Constitutional Court ruling which might have implications for his trial. Even if it begins on time, it is still unlikely to be over by the general election in April.
However, Zuma is likely to file for a permanent stay of execution, arguing his right to a fair trial has been compromised. This move could see a drawn out legal battle beyond the election.
The ANC's push for its deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, to be appointed to the cabinet has yet to materialise as Mbeggi has not acted on the party's call. The ANC decision to deploy Motlanthe is influenced in part by Zuma's legal woes and will allow Motlanthe to get an overview of the functioning of the executive ahead of the general election.
Motlanthe will most likely be the ANC's back-up should Zuma be convicted. The summit -- the first meeting of the alliance since Zuma's victory as ANC president in December -- discussed a number of issues, including rising food prices, fuel, the high levels of unemployment and poverty, health, education, crime, the electricity crises, Zimbabwe and plans for the election.
The demand by alliance partners - the SA Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - to be accommodated on a more equal footing, seems to have borne fruit.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the union federation was "very happy" with decisions taken at the gathering. The alliance agreed to work together to formulate policy, and monitor its implementation of policy through joint alliance committees.
This decision to give capacity to these outcomes is a departure from previous alliance summits.
The ANC's readiness to accommodate Cosatu and SACP is no doubt influenced by the upcoming election. The ANC is hoping to increase its two-third majority and needs Cosatu's organisational muscle to bring out voters. The real test of the ANC's commitment to accommodate its allies will be the extent to which it takes on board their policy proposals when the new government is ushered in.