South Africa


The unstoppable impunities of being Jacob Zuma — with a lot of help from the ANC

The unstoppable impunities of being Jacob Zuma — with a lot of help from the ANC
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Elizabeth Sejake)

The Electoral Court has ruled that former president Jacob Zuma can stand in the elections. The ANC created its biggest ballot threat.

You can’t keep the man down. On Tuesday, former president Jacob Zuma won a significant victory for his startup uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party when the Electoral Court upheld his appeal against the Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC’s) rejection of his candidacy.

The court will provide a written judgment next week, but Zuma is now cleared to be on the list of candidates, which will be certified on Friday, ahead of the printing of ballot papers for the 29 May election.

This is a significant victory for the MK party and for Zuma, who is turning out to be the story of the election, and the successful lawfare will grow his popularity.

Read more in Daily Maverick: MK party wins Electoral Court case to allow Jacob Zuma onto the ballot to contest elections

The MK party is involved in several court cases, and it uses each one as a mini rally that is publicised for free nationally on television, radio, mass media and social media. All this has given the party enough heft to make more than a dent for itself in the voters’ imagination.

That’s one story. 

Major scandals

The other story is of the unstoppable impunities of the former president and how the ANC fuelled this.

He has survived more major scandals (the Arms Deal; the Khwezi rape case, in which he was acquitted; State Capture and his friends, the Guptas; destruction of the state) than any political leader in South Africa and Africa, it can be argued. And now he wants a Second Coming to leave a bigger imprimatur.

His supporters have said that he wants to retire and run the party. To leave MK’s national and provincial Parliament caucuses (should it win enough votes) to be run by young MK members and presumably by his daughter, Duduzile Zuma.

But outside court this week, Zuma said he would like another go at the Union Buildings. The party has claimed it wants to win a two-thirds majority (which the ANC has managed only once) and change the Constitution so Zuma can serve a third term as president.

God help us, but if Donald Trump is his political doppelganger (or if Zuma is the orange man’s alter ego), this is not impossible.

For that, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government has more than a little to answer for. This graphic shows how Ramaphosa’s actions have impelled Zuma’s impunities.

With a mandate to wipe the slates clean when he became President in 2019, Ramaphosa instead mollified Zuma’s Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction. The former spymaster Arthur Fraser was appointed as Correctional Services Commissioner. 

Fraser, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture found, ran a parallel intelligence operation that supported Zuma’s presidency in many ways that are yet to be understood.

He also blew the lid on the Phala Phala forex scandal, which still shadows Ramaphosa. (In 2020, staff allegedly stole $580,000 hidden in a couch at the President’s ranch and paid by a Sudanese billionaire who never fetched the buffalo he had bought.)

Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to appear before the Zondo Commission and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was jailed in a rare act of justice against his impunity, but Fraser got him out in two ticks on medical parole so full of holes that three different courts said it was improper. Fraser told Ramaphosa of his plans and they clearly got a nod and a wink.

When the Constitutional Court also ordered Zuma back to the Estcourt Correctional Centre to complete his sentence (which would have made his candidacy this year impossible under the Constitution), Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola sprang him out.

In August 2023, Zuma was released by Lamola as part of a mass remission of sentence for prisoners in specific categories as part of a project to deal with prison overcrowding. It was a blatant ruse to protect an ANC cadre, but in a country where we are abused by the political classes, South Africans let it go.

What was also let go in our national amnesia until now is that the Department of Correctional Services in October 2022 said Zuma had in effect completed his sentence and that it had expired. That stands as an official decision.

So, the ANC created its own opposition in the MK party, which has even stolen the identity of its armed wing. If the IEC continues to appeal against the court decision, the MK party will only grow in popularity, which could stymie the 29 May election timetable.

The ANC has created its most formidable opposition. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Senzo Moyakhe says:

    A lekker hubris moment for the cANCer

  • Walter Spatula says:

    The irony is delicious.

  • Frank Fettig says:

    Jacob Zuma will be remembered as the criminal who turned South Africa into a failed state. And millions and millions of South Africans who then were forced to live a life worse than during apartheid.
    Thank you, ANC, for the better life for us all!

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      You are right Frank all the outcomes of challenging this ruling or not challenging it are all grave.
      The IEC mandate has been grossly undermined by the technicality of the ruling.
      The IEC is bound to adhere to the policy of not allowing individuals with criminal records to parliament but lack the powers to enforce it….interesting.
      The face goes to the ballot but doesn’t go to parliament for reasons beyond control, say illness but still selects someone to replace him.
      It then becomes a different story with objective achieved.
      Give this man bells.

    • Hedley Davidson says:

      Unfortunately it is the ignorance of those who keep voting for him and/or the ANC that results in this situation . They are happy with the little they have and clearly don’t want better

    • J vN says:

      Millions and millions of those Seffricans voted for Zuma, and are gain going to vote for him again this time round.

      These voters very richly deserve every little bit of poverty and misery that they suffer as a result of their poor voting decisions.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    They tried to charm a snake, only to find out that a snake is a snake.

  • William Kelly says:

    Amazing isn’t it? The ANC have always been quite good at scruffing around with political arguments, and rhetoric with zero substance. They’ve even made it pay, and pay, and pay, for thirty years. And now they’re having to deal with actual consequence in the same space. But this pales into insignificance when one considers that even worse for them, the biggest embarrassment of all is that they lost to Mpofu. Now that’s proper bread and circus material.

  • Siphelo dakada says:

    This buzz around MK isn’t going to amount to anything significant. It’ll just be another episode in the KZN homestead saga, akin to the IFP, shrouded in Pan-African rhetoric. This is essentially a self-serving poem, a plea to put them in power so they can nationalize resources for themselves and their progeny. They vow to dismantle everything the previous apartheid regime built for their own. The N1 will revert to a gravel path, and as for Bara Hospital, their triumph will see it reduced to ashes like EC hospitals while they will be travelling to countries of so called people they despise for treatment . It’s a vision of destruction, not progress.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      Too true. Just another ANC in the making. The MK will take away ANC votes and the MK voters will have another ANC ruling them under a new name and new flag. The last 30 years of decline will simply continue, unless we see a miracle at the polling stations this year. We need to pray for a miracle.

  • Sithembiso Chibi says:

    South African’s, partly are deceivable but many are not ignorant for sure about the status quo of the developments regarding former president Jakob Zuma. I so much believe that regardless of the outcome of the electoral court’s decision, the country will not be led by law breakers.

  • Dave Gould says:

    How did we get so unlucky as a country to deserve the ANC, and the political thugs like Zuma that it spawned. Where did we go wrong ?

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      In the same way the USA deserved ( and possibly) deserves Trump! Blame the voters!

    • Harry Boyle says:


    • Malcolm McManus says:

      We didn’t go wrong. The Democratic West did, and the ANC Stalwarts and cadres benefited. They chose South Africas democratic future for us and then left us to self destruct after 1994. The people who fought for democracy, didn’t do so to get poor, as the saying goes. Our government has long turned its back on its citizens who loyally vote for the ANC every election. To achieve what? I have no logical explanation for this self destructive behaviour.

  • Edwin Ngwazi says:

    The man is untouchable 👍

  • Elvis Smith says:

    Zuma and the crooked lawyer Dali Mpofu never give up to make a mockery of our law system Dali Mpofu is so arrogant disrespectful to Judges Court’s and the law system of this Country today his a multi millionaire because of defending Jacob Zuma and Busisiwe Mkhwebane his smiling all the way to the bank at the expense of dividing SOUTH AFRICANS allowing Jacob Zuma to course controversy like in 2021 so my question is when is all this things going to end so that we can have a peaceful Country.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Oh yes….all part of the ANC plan for back up against a possible IFP and DA partnership in KZN!
    African Justice at its best! Let the stealing continue at the taxpayers expense but now we can add insult to injury by giving them the middle finger too!

  • Jehan Bektir says:

    I think MK is just there to mop up what would have been the stay-away vote in KwaZulu. Of course Mk and ANC will go into coalition after the election.

    • Mfana Dyasi says:

      There is no way these 2 can ever go into a coalition. they are 2 factions that hate each other with a passion.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      Political parties (like the DA and IFP) in KZN should stop worrying about their opposition (MK) and take a leaf out of business stratergies: Focus on what you do best and concentrate on marketing your products and services.

  • Johan Buys says:

    “ The ANC has created its most formidable opposition”

    There is no chance of MK getting the second-most votes in the country UNLESS it splits the ANC in half. Even in that case, the ANC + MK will not achieve 50%.

    We should thank former prisoner zuma for saving the country.

  • Flapster Karos says:

    The demise of the Anc will ultimately be brought about by their own insatiable thirst for power, rampant greed, corruption, deceit, theft, and manipulation. While this may be seen as a positive development for Mzansi, the unfortunate reality is that there is currently no superior alternative amongst opposition parties. 29 May 2024 will be the start of a new reality for South Africa and the Anc.

  • Freda Brodie says:

    The possibility that Eff will join MK is real, with some of the other smaller parties selling their souls to be in government for the pay cheque. Very scary indeed.

  • Well, until we get the electoral court full judgement which we are told , will be made available next week , it is very wrong for anyone criticizing the judgement that has not been published , regardless of the hatred some people might have towards the man , JZ. My second point is that , the IEC must stop acting like mindless dumping filing cabinet , as a chapter 9 , independent creature of the constitution , whose body of work is largely administrative , it must avoid making silly , childish and reckless mistakes.

    You cant have a commissioner making a reckless comment about a matter that must still be decided by the commission There are many case laws one can use to substantiate why the IEC made a blunder , for instance , in Chief Constable Pietermaritzburg v Isham (1908 28 NLR 338 341) , the court held that , ”It is a principle of common law that no shall be condemned unheard, and it would require very clear words in the statute to deprive a man of that right.”

    The question now is , when a commissioner made public comments about JZ eligibility , was Zuma consulted before ? The answer NO. Are you then expecting the Electoral Court to condone violation of Zuma’s rights to a fair hearing before a decision which affects his political rights is being taken ?

    Is there a statute or law that deprive Zuma his rights , the answer is NO. It is within his right to go to Court when there is an abuse of what was supposedly to be an independent , impartial , neutral , objective body such as IEC.

    In R v Ngwebela 1954 1 SA 123 (A) 127 , it was held that , ”When a statute empowers a public official to give a decision prejudicial affecting an individual ‘s property or liberty , that individual has a right to be heard before action is taken against him.”

    Zuma enjoys same liberty , freedom and rights we enjoy , it cant be that someone because is a commissioner , excited before national television cameras trample over Zuma’s rights , surely , that announcement even before the IEC arrived at a decision was a calculated move to humiliate both Zuma and MK Party , it was intentional to cause a reputational damage.

    That has nothing to do with the constitutional court ruling against Zuma. He like all of us entitle to procedural fairness.

    When the IEC makes a mistake or a blunder , it ought to go Court , correct that mistake , they elected to take a chance , first rubbish Zuma’s name and thereafter take a decision to re-affirm their earlier pronouncement to disqualify Zuma because they were hoping that the constitutional court sentence of 15 months will work in their favour.

    Again , the merits and reasoning of the court will be made public , it is premature to criticize the court now. Having listened to those judges , all of them , I have absolute faith and 100% confidence in them.

    They are alert with a sharp mind , what impressed me most , they pay attention on small detail.

    If the country’s investigative and intelligent capabilities are of a lower standard , then , we cannot blame Zuma for moving from one court to another.

    He has a right to do so and i encourage him to do so because , from spy tapes to many other cases , without Zuma , we would have never know that state machinery can be abused to fight political battles.

    Even Cyril Ramaposa who is a darling of western and bourgeoisie , was part of the so-called Zuma wasted 9 years , but , a false narrative has been created to blame Zuma when even Cyril said in the Zondo Commission he was aware of state capture and corruption he decided to do nothing.

    Not all of us are fools or brainless idiots , we know what is going on , so , let the political bioskop continue , we cant wait for its end -result or conclusion

  • Philip Machanick says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that remission had the effect of deleting his more than 12 months sentence – there could be other reasons for the Electoral Court judgment.

    Besides Ramaphosa playing him with kid gloves, you have to remember that they were all in the same cabinet that the State Capture commission exposed.

    There isn’t a good and a bad ANC. There are just factions who argue “our crooks are better than their crooks”.

  • Theo Cromhout says:

    Also note the ANC voting in support of Zuma, and against almost 10 Parliamentary votes of no confidence in Zuma when he was president during the 10 “lost years”. They backed him and kept him in power until 2018. Before that, they stood by their man. At our (South Africa’s) expense.

  • Lenka Mojau says:

    One thing to remind those people who hates Jacob Zuma and label him a criminal the truth is that they have assumed responsibilities that belongs to the courts which can only pronounce on that. Allegations will remain allergations until they are proven in court. Unless they want to perpetuate lies like some in the media. Zuma is not necessarily my favorite person but we are tired of rumors not tested in courts. Every person who supports Zuma is verified. Like Advocate Mpofu who is simply doing what his profession is all about, defending the accused.

  • Michael Shepstone says:

    Hopefully the ANC has learned that there is no honour among thieves!
    I strongly suspect that Zuma is being bankrolled by Russia despite all the sucking up the ANC has done!
    After all, there’s still Zumas big nuclear contract to collect on!

  • wilna helmi says:

    It’s a pity that so many south africans seem to forget very easily. … and “steal” does not seem to bother them

  • Dan Bowskill says:

    The country has been forsaken by Ramaphosa. He knows what is wrong with the ANC but let’s it go as he is a coward and weakling. He was gifted shares and millions of rands by business and would be nothing otherwise.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted