Zuma charges: How did one man get away with so much for so long?

20 February 2018 - 06:00 By Tanya Farber
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Jacob Zuma.
Jacob Zuma.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Former president Jacob Zuma, who has bobbed and weaved past one political scandal after another, will find out on Friday afternoon whether he will face corruption charges in court.

But‚ we should ask ourselves‚ what type of rotten political context allowed one man to get away with so much for so long? The marvel isn't that he fell from power. The marvel is how many lifelines were thrown to him before that happened.

When stripped down to the basic events‚ one can only ask one question:


- Bribery and dismissal: When he was elected as ANC head in 2007‚ he already had marks of disgrace on his CV. From 1999‚ he was deputy president of the country under Thabo Mbeki.

However‚ it came to light that Schabir Shaik‚ his financial adviser‚ had solicited bribes on his behalf and that an arms deal worth $5-billion lay at the heart of it. In 2005‚ Mbeki dismissed him while Shaik went to prison.

- Rape: In June 2005‚ he was charged with the rape of a young family friend - known then only as Khwezi - who was HIV-positive. He was acquitted and went on to defeat Mbeki for the party crown two years later‚ while Khwezi had to leave the country for fear of intimidation.

- Presidency: In 2008‚ Mbeki was recalled by the NEC and resigned‚ and the following year Zuma took the ANC to a win at the polls and became president of the country. It was the first time a dismissed deputy had gone on to become president - and he then went on to win another election.

- Spy tapes: In 2009‚ the National Prosecuting Authority dropped charges against him‚ saying recordings of conversations proved Mbeki had colluded against Zuma with former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka.

- Racketeering‚ corruption‚ fraud and money laundering: A total of 783 counts were levelled against Zuma and hovered over his presidency for the full extent of his term.

- Nkandla: A report by then public protector Thuli Madonsela said Zuma had unduly benefited from improvements made to his private home to the tune of R246m which came from public funds. The Constitutional Court found that Zuma had not upheld the constitution after he failed to comply with Madonsela’s report‚ and calls for his resignation grew.

- State capture report: If Nkandla was the dress rehearsal‚ the state capture report by Madonsela was the gala performance. Zuma wrote it off as a political tool‚ but it wouldn’t go away‚ and early this year he agreed to an inquiry. This was after the Gupta e-mail leaks‚ The President’s Keepers‚ and many other sources‚ reports and investigations confirmed that the country had been captured by the Gupta family.

- Charges reinstated: Last year‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that 18 counts of corruption should be reinstated.

- Votes of no confidence: Zuma survived at least five votes of no confidence against him.

Jacob Zuma is no longer the president of South Africa. TimesLIVE takes a look back at his tenure leading the country. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

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