Zuma Zooms Into Jail

Ernest Omoarelojie with Agency Reports


Ex South African President, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, has succumbed to pressure and quietly handed himself in to officials of Estcourt Correctional Centre early Thursday in Kwazulu Natal, to begin his 15 month prison sentence for contempt of court.
“President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order,’’ his foundation said in a statement which, for the first time, shows any willingness on the part of Zuma’s camp to cooperate with the court.
The prison sentence is as a result of his failure to obey an order by South Africa’s Supreme Court to appear at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of corruption. In particular the commission was launched by Zuma himself in the final days of his administration following which it received testimonies of how he and members of his administration allegedly colluded with some well connected businessmen, including Atul, Ajay and Ralesh Gupta and foreign companies to secure over-prized government contracts in return for payments and other favours. Like Zuma, the Gupta brothers denied the allegations but fled South Africa to Dubai shortly after relinquished power.
While still dealing with the outcome of the contempt proceedings, Zuma still has a separate corruption trial involving a $5 billion arms deal from the 1990s and another $2bn arms deal in 1999 to contend with. Though he has denied and dismissed both charges as political witch hunt, insisting in particular that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is biased against him, his travail, a culmination of a long legal drama, is however, a lesson for Sub-Saharan African leaders.
Zuma is not entirely a stranger in prison. In 1963, he was jailed 10 years for his stand against South Africa’s apartheid regime
Though he was charged with raping a family friend in 2005, he was however, acquitted in 2006 in a trial that deeply polarised the ANC, the former liberation movement which became the governing party in 1994 and of which Zuma has been a member since the age of 17. The case was dismissed as consensual.

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