Shift focus to pressing issues
In the nick of time sanity and peace prevailed in SA
Adamp squib. That’s what we were served at midnight on Wednesday. There was much anticipation and apprehension that former president Jacob Zuma would defy the law and dare the police to drag him off to prison.
His lawyer and supporters had threatened mayhem and anarchy were Msholozi be hauled to jail.
The country had been on tenterhooks for a week since the former president was found guilty of contempt of a Constitutional Court order to appear before the state capture commission.
In true Zuma style, he took to the podium to proclaim he was not scared of prison since he had served 10 years on Robben Island.
His supporters lapped it up and prepared for “war” when the police came. The disbanded Umkhonto wesizwe Military Veterans Association morphed into Zuma’s private army and had been stationed at Nkandla since February to “protect” him from arrest. The feared Amabutho were roped in to beef up a ring of steel around Zuma’s compound.
For a while, Covid-19 woes took second place as Zuma played to the gallery.
The police made a show of force as the deadline for Zuma to present himself to the authorities approached. It brought back the memories of the 2012 Marikana massacre in which the police mowed down striking mineworkers. However, in the nick of time, sanity prevailed and Zuma was driven to prison.
Democracy was the winner and it is clear that no one is above the law. This side show and circus tested the limits of our democracy and many feared Zuma would bend it for his own benefit.
In true South African fashion, sceptics have already bemoaned that Zuma will enjoy comforts during the 15 months he will be behind bars or a quarter of that term if parole is granted.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola came out on Thursday to assure citizens that Zuma would be treated like any other offender.
Zuma’s capitulation and incarceration would have sent shivers down the spines of his vociferous supporters who face serious cases at various courts in the country. If a big fish like Zuma could be caught, they stand little chance of playing the system to avoid prison.
With Zuma now a guest of the state, the country can at least focus on more important matters, such as economic growth and the fight against poverty.
The lens shifts to President Cyril Ramaphosa to turn the fortunes of a country buckling under lockdowns and moribund economy.
Once again, we are in choppy waters and pressure is rising on Ramaphosa to chart a way forward in the next family meeting.
We wait with bated breath.