Open letter to Shaun Abrahams: Do not prosecute Jacob Zuma

15 March 2018 - 07:51 By Sindiso Malaku
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Image: REUTERS

'We're a country of second chances' writes Sindiso Maluku in an open letter to NPA boss Shaun Abrahams. Malaku‚ describes himself as a chartered marketer‚ a MBL graduate‚ a LLB student and a member of the ANC. Read his unedited letter below

Dear Advocate Abrahams‚

I thought I should add my voice to the ongoing debate whether to prosecute the former president of the Republic Mr Jacob Zuma or not. In the bigger scheme of things‚ my voice is likely to be drowned out by much bigger voices such as the AfriForum‚ Freedom Under Law‚ Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC)‚ Helen Suzman Foundation‚ Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA‚ Section 27 and Crime Watch to mention a few. I will not be surprised nor take umbrage should this letter not reach you; who am I‚ after all.

The latest exciting developments in the body politics of the country which saw the removal of Jacob Zuma from the country’s two most powerful offices in the land namely the president of the African National Congress (ANC) and President of the Republic of South Africa have gripped the country and the dinner tables of many homes. This Ramaphoria has seen sanity prevail over our parliamentarians as witnessed during the State Of the Nation Address (SONA) and Budget Speech.

The often sluggish economy has held its own among the economies of the leading countries. The unemployment rate has dropped or be it by a miniscule margin. This is the best feeling we haven’t felt since the dawn of democracy and before the removal of Thabo Mbeki as the President of the Republic. As Archbishop Tutu retorted at the pre-world cup conference in 2010 “…it’s unbelievable‚ hey I am dreaming maan‚ I am dreaming. Wake me up - wake me up; ooh what a lovely dream; ja ja ja..”. This quote certainly sums up the euphoria that has gripped the country since the removal of Zuma; and I share the feeling.

However‚ I want to us caution against losing ourselves in this euphoria to a point that whatever we perceive‚ rightly or wrongly‚ as likely to spoil this moment must be removed from among us. In this case Jacob Zuma is perceived as a threat to this euphoria. He is perceived as somebody who will sully this lovely dream. He is perceived as a party pooper. So the entire country including our often defunct criminal justice system has garnered the strength to deal with this threat.

Before I delve to my point; I want to say I hold not brief for Zuma. I actually think he should have been removed years ago. This is the man who sold our country to the highest bidder‚ the Guptas. This is the man who turned our beautiful country into his fiefdom to enrich his family... This is the man who dealt with his comrades who opposed his folly mercilessly such as Blade Nzimande‚ Julius Malema‚ Zwelinzima Vavi‚ Pravin Gordhan‚ Nhlanhla Nene to mention a few. This is the man who split this country down the middle and pitted the Zulu Nation against the rest. This is the man‚ who turned the once glorious movement and pride of our nation the ANC into a shadow of its former self. So my feeling against Jacob Zuma are strong and my friends know what I thought of his ascendency to power as the President of the ANC in 2007 and later of the country in 2009. I have never been a fan of Jacob Zuma and I am not going to start to be one today. In fact Zuma represents everything I stand against...

I am however a fan of this country and it is the love for this country that has propelled be to jot this letter to you. How many times have we praised the tenacity of our democracy; we often say our democracy has matured given the manner we have responded to different situations that have crossed our path. How many times have we patted ourselves on the shoulder for not going to war when Chris Hani was killed when everything pointed us going to war?

How many times have we called this country a miracle for forgiving our oppressors and not going to war for vengeance? How many times have we praised our democracy for withstanding the recall of not one but two sitting presidents? So why would this democracy that has withstood such ferocious headwinds in the past all of a sudden buckle because of the decision not to prosecute Zuma. If it were to buckle‚ I would be the first one to say our democracy is cosmetic and airbrushed.

Advocate Abrahams; people often say justice is blind; it does not see class‚ status‚ race‚ gender or any form of classification; and I agree with that assertion. Having said that‚ I would be quick to say justice should not be dumb either. It should put the interest of the country first. It might be in the interest of the aforementioned lobby groups and other political parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA)‚ Freedom Front Plus and Congress of the People (Cope) that Zuma gets prosecuted and sentenced to a long term imprisonment.

This the DA made it clear when they we gesticulating during the SONA day. It is almost fait accompli that they want you to take a decision to prosecute and taking a contrary decision would be met with disdain by these groups. Having agreed to prosecute‚ it is almost academic to them that the courts of law will find Zuma guilty and any contrary decision will be labeled as flying in the face of justice.

These lobby groups‚ political parties‚ some in the media and some of those who stay in upmarket gated communities want Zuma to be prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment at all cost. They do not care about the repercussions of such a decision. To them‚ prosecuting Zuma is and be all. Whether as a result of such a decision this country descends into chaos it does not bother them.

Whether this decision results in what used to be called black-on-black violence doesn’t bother them; whether this decision plunges this country into ethnic war does not bother them because they will be safe in their gates suburbs. It is the government and the poor black townships that will be left to pick up the pieces.

The decision to prosecute Zuma will throw this country into a war last seen in the 80s. In the 1980s the war was political between mainly ANC and IFP. In the 2000s the war‚ which is still raging‚ is more factional or intra-ANC. These two wars are nothing compared to the ethnic war which is likely to wipe out families‚ villages and communities on the grounds of their ethnicity. Rwanda/Burundi and Kenya are the modern examples of what ethnic war is likely to do. Unlike the political and factional wars‚ this type of war will see Zulus from all political persuasions come together to fight one common enemy which in their eyes seeks to wipe out the Zulus from the politics of this country.

This feeling is already growing legs within KwaZulu-Natal because of the non-representation of Zulus in the ANC top six and the recall of Zuma from the Union Buildings. Some in KwaZulu-Natal expressed their unhappiness by calling on Zuma to stand as the Chairperson of the ANC and later the Premier. Who can forget what His Majesty the Zulu King‚ Goodwill Zwelithini told his subject the media and the whole world in January that there will be blood if their property rights are tempered with‚ referring specifically to the Ingonyama Trust.

Who will forget what Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said when responding to the State of the Nation Address; he cared less about what President Ramaphosa said and went on to talk about the Isandlwana war. Recently‚ King Zwelithini has repeated his threats but this terms in clearer terms. This utterances in my view border on treason and action should be taken against the Zulu King. These are undertones that the Zulus feel excluded and marginalized and are ready to reclaim their standing.

The King has overtly called on this subjects to contribute funds and for his regiments to stand ready. Zuma flexed his muscles at the weekend when campaigning for the ANC with thousands of supporters in KwaZulu-Natal following him. These signs cannot and should not be taken lightly. The situation in KwaZulu-Natal is fertile and only waiting for the trigger and there are two triggers name the Ingonyama Trust and the Prosecution of Zuma.

We are a country of second chances or maybe third chances. We have in the past taken the tough decision not to prosecute those who butchered us during the days of the apartheid so we could build this wonderful country of ours. We have taken the decision to host despots who were facing prosecutions in their counties so as to give those counties a chance to build their nations.

We have taken tough decisions to send our defence force into rough terrains across the continent to maintain the peace in those countries. So how could we not find it in ourselves to keep Zuma out of jail so as to keep and maintain the beautiful democracy of our country? Instead of seeing Zuma as a liability‚ and I agree for the past nine years he has been a liability to this country‚ we could use him to unify our country‚ particularly the Zulus.

The Constitutional Court has given you a go-ahead to announce your decision; but I beg of you to put this country first. Prosecuting Zuma might be in the public interest as it will please the lobby groups‚ political parties‚ some in the media and the well-heeled who live behind tall walls in gated communities. But is it in the interest of the country to prosecute Zuma. Will we all be happy to see Zuma in jail whilst KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are engulfed in flames? Will we be happy when Zuma is in jail and the bodies keep dropping?

Will we be happy when blacks maul each other whilst those who were in the forefront of the Zuma prosecution are nowhere to be seen or heard? Will we be happy to see the rating agencies downgrading our country as a result of this internal stability? Will we be happy to see the unemployment rate go through the roof and by extension crime rate escalate? As for me; I would rather have Zuma walk our streets a free man than to have no go areas in this country. I would rather‚ as part of the deal‚ have Zuma unite the fragile KZN than to see him in prison.

The opportunity cost of incarcerating Zuma is too big. You might take the easy way out and prosecute Zuma hoping this decision will endear you among the ANC leadership and the media to salvage your reputation‚ hoping your employment will be secured. You might take another easy way out and prosecute Zuma hoping that President Ramaphosa will grant him the presidential pardon; but by the time such a pardon is granted‚ how many bodies would have dropped?

If we have a solid democracy; a tested democracy; a mature democracy; why would such a democracy buckle at the nolle prosequi (do not prosecute) decision?

You can choose to build or to destroy this country with a stroke of the pen. The decision is in your hands. I for one say‚ do not prosecute Zuma to give this country a chance to rebuild itself.

X