Thursday, July 2, 2009
With our election less than a week and a half away, it still sits as the most important topic on our minds today. For a majority of Black South Africans issues of housing, education, and health are the most important. So even though the front-runner party, the long-standing, liberating ANC party, has a presidential candidate, Jacob Zuma, who has been charged with corruption and bribery charges, he will most likely win. This suggests that such issues of corruption and the law are not the most important factors in this upcoming election. Still, the big question is what happens to a convicted president, should he win, and should he even still be running.
Well the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had a decision to make. Should they continue the case against Zuma or let it go. And their final announcement came on Monday the 6th of April. In what I believe to be a historic decision, the charges against Zuma were dropped and many South Africans were happy (I’ve talked to some).
Strangely the NPA’s acting head Mokotedi Mpshe, and his team did not dismiss the charges because a fair trial would be impossible (as Zuma claimed), or such a trial would tarnish or ruin South Africa’s image abroad, or trial evidence had been manipulated. It wasn’t even dismissed because they believed Zuma to be innocent. It was dismissed because they felt the “legal process” had been politically “abused” according to Mpshe. The charges were dismissed because the NPA believes the (most recent) charges were levied back in December 2007 right after elections for the presidency of the ANC perfectly timed to do the most damage to Zuma and give the most benefit to the former president Thabo Mbeki.
So the NPA felt that if it pursued charges, the public might feel that they condoned malpractice by law enforcement officials. On the other hand, the NPA thought if it dropped charges, the public might view the NPA as condoning crime or at least not addressing and failing to protect the public from such crime.
So it was a lose-lose situation according to the NPA. Still, they came to a conclusion and made a decision which has angered some and encouraged others. Regardless of the fact the Economist reports that a majority of South Africans believe Zuma is guilty, he is now no longer to be tried. Zuma still proclaims his innocence, though the NPA makes it clear that the dropping of charges is not an acquittal or presumption of innocence. This is due to legal malpractice.
So now the stage is set, and the road is clear for the 22nd of April elections in which Zuma will likely become the next elected president of the Republic of South Africa.