By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)
The recent conviction of the former South African President Jacob Zuma by a South African court was indeed a clear demonstration of South Africa’s strong institutions based on the principle of the rule of law and the doctrine of the separation of power as enshrined under the country’s constitution.
It would be recalled that the country’s constitutional court a few week ago had convicted Jacob Zuma on contempt of court charges brought against him by the State and the court subsequently sentenced him to fifteen months imprisonment.
Former President Zuma who had ruled South Africa from 2009-2018 was convicted due to his refusal to honour a court summons during his reign as South Africa’s helmsman even as he was still facing multiple monumental corruption charges in the court on allegations of receiving gratification from government contractors, fraud, and money laundering among other charges while he was in power.
This sad development consequently triggered off series of dramatic events in the whole Zuma saga as the disgraced former President fought desperately to stop his conviction and eventual imprisonment but his legal challenges collapsed completely even as the zero hour or dead line which was 12 midnight of the July 2021 for him to turn himself in or surrender to the Police was fast approaching failing which he would face instant arrest by the Police.
As tension was already mounting in the country particularly in KwaZulu-Natal Province, which is Zuma’s home base, supporters of the embattled former President staged massive protests and mounted huge human shield at his residence ostensibly to prevent his arrest by the police who were poised to carry out the court’s order.
Dramatically few minutes before the midnight dead line of 7th July 2021, the former President Zuma voluntarily surrendered himself to the Police who immediately drove him to the South African Correctional Centre to begin his fifteen months jail term.
The fallout from the dramatic turn of events was the eruption of spontaneous massive protests across major South African cities such as KwaZulu-Natal Province, Johannesburg, Durban Alexandria among other cities where wide spread lootings and arsons were reported to have been perpetrated by irate mobs.
Political analysts had posited that the protests had taken a wider political dimension as the teeming unemployed black South African youths who seemingly were abandoned by successive governments since the end of apartheid immediately took advantage of the extremely tense and volatile situation to wreak havoc and committed monumental mayhem and devastation to the business community in South Africa and her economy.
The mostly affected in this terrible mayhem and devastation were the businesses of the white and Asian South Africans who are today in total control of the South African economy even as the black majority South Africans were yet to record any significant impact in the nation’s economy since the end of the racist white minority regime more than twenty seven years ago.
The white and Asian minority South Africans are still firmly in control of the nation’s economy, hence, the deep seated anger and frustration of the teeming restive black South African youths who seem to have lost all hopes for survival under the government controlled by the African National Congress (ANC).
To further compound the already messy and pathetic situation, it is an incontrovertible fact that there had not been any significant changes if any on the highly sensitive and controversial issue of land re-distribution in favour of the black South Africans, despite the orchestrated policy statement or thrust by the ANC led government to the effect that the arable lands occupied by the white minority settlers since the past two centuries or so would be re-distributed to the black South African majority at the end of the obnoxious apartheid era.
It is no gaining the fact that these unresolved nagging issues were obviously the major reasons for the present political imbroglio or turmoil and instability in South Africa, as the black majority South Africans had continued to insist that they would no longer be treated as inferior citizens or slaves in their own God given country.
The current mood of the black majority South Africans is that the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) which has been in power since the end apartheid has woefully failed the people and betrayed the sacred trust of the Black South Africans whose hopes and high expectations for an egalitarian South African society had been terribly betrayed and dashed.
The present political scenario already playing out in South Africa is a clear manifestation of decades of total discontentment and hopelessness of the black majority South Africans who had placed absolute confidence and trust in the ANC leadership to positively impact on their individual lives and usher in the much expected el-dorado at the end of the repressive racist white minority regime.
Political analysts had also maintained that incidents of wide spread and unbridled corruption had become endemic within the ANC controlled government.
As the unfortunate political crisis and violence continue to rage in South Africa, it was reported that more than two hundred people had so far been killed and over one thousand people arrested for massive lootings and wanton destruction of properties.
In the mean time however, President Cyril Ramaphosa had appealed for calm and deployed about twenty five thousands reserve troops to the volatile cities and townships to quell the escalating violent protests even as the Police had been terribly overwhelmed by the unprecedented level of violence since the end of apartheid. In his initial reaction, President Ramaphosa had said that the current violent protests were pre-planned and an affront to South African democracy.
It is therefore the hope of South Africans and indeed the entire African continent that the current level of violent protests and destructions must stop immediately and urgent dialogue with the restive youths must be encouraged to douse the escalating tension in the land.
President Ramahosa’s Government as a matter of deliberate policy, must take a decisive action to create the enabling environment for the teeming unemployed youths to be gainfully employed and positively contribute to the growth and economic development of South Africa which had been rated as the most industrialized economy within the African Continent.
On the issue of former President Zuma’s recent conviction and imprisonment which apparently precipitated the current mayhem and destruction of lives and properties, the South African Judicial System had once again proven itself as a strong, courageous, impartial and independent institution which is second to none in Africa.
The judiciary is therefore in a better position to review Zuma’s conviction and must never be cowed or intimidated by mob action or other external forces which had been calling for Zuma’s release from prison.
In conclusion, the ANC which is the dominant political party in South Africa, must quickly put its house in order and adopt the same uncommon spirit and energy they had deployed to fight and vanquished the obnoxious and repressive apartheid regime to unite and offer good governance to the hapless and psychologically traumatized black majority South Africans.
The ANC must therefore quickly restore the hopes and aspirations of the Black Majority South Africans who had expected a dramatic turn around and positive changes in their individual lives since the emergence of the black majority rule over two decades ago.
It’s an irony of fate and a matter of deep regret therefore, that the Black Majority South Africans had continued to suffer the same gross injustice, abject poverty and deprivations under the ANC controlled government which they had considered as their own and which had championed their eventual liberation after the protracted and fierce liberation struggles.
The inglorious exit from power and fallen from grace to grass of former President Zuma and his subsequent conviction is bound to reverberate across the African Continent and beyond and would obviously serve as an important lesson for African leaders who are still under the illusion that they are above the laws of the land and as such could brazenly trample on the rights of their citizens.
They should therefore be quickly reminded that the day of reckoning when they must give account of their stewardship to their people would surely come and probably sooner than they could ever imagine that it would become a reality.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs
Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.
G.S.M: 08074942671, 07037256684
21st July, 2021