Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Zuma is fading fast

It is always dangerous to predict what will happen in politics and more so when one is foolish enough to want to make predictions about the ANC Presidential succession. But I am a brave man, so I will predict that Jacob Zuma's Presidential bid is done for.

First Mr. Zuma's legal troubles seem to be multiplying. He recently suffered several defeats in court, which may not be relevant for his ultimate criminal innocence or guilt, but which are further tarnishing his standing in the community. Mr. Zuma's lawyers are playing a high stakes game in which they are trying to achieve two things.

More immediately, they wish to prevent Mr. Zuma from being charged until after the December conference. This will allow Mr. Zuma to stand for President of the ANC without being an accused in a criminal case and will allow this supporters to talk darkly about a conspiracy.

In the long term, the lawyers want to wear down the less well resourced NPA by challenging its every move and admitting nothing. They hope that this scorched earth policy will allow them to claim that Mr. Zuma is a victim of state shenanigans and will also force the state into stupid mistakes.

In order to save time and money, Schabir Shaik's lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, made many admissions on his behalf and allowed many documents to be submitted by the state because they decided challenging the authenticity of every document when some of them are clearly authentic would tarnish Mr Shaik's credibility. Unlike Zuma, Shaik also did not have access to millions of Rand to pay his lawyers.

But with Mr. Zuma, Kemp J Kemp and his cohorts are doing exactly the opposite and the results will be predictable. In the court of public opinion, at least, people will begin to ask questions about a strategy in which obvious facts and truths are denied by the potential accused. People are already starting to ask: If Mr. Zuma is so bloody innocent, why is he so bloody desperate to stop the state from investigating the case? Even if this strategy brings legal success, it is bound to bring political ruin.

There is a second reason why, in my opinion, Mr. Zuma is done for. Despite ANC delegates deciding this race. he still needs the media to give him a platform. But it seems to me that both the print media and the electronic media - even His Masters Voice! - have now turned against him. They now either ignore him or criticise him - and the criticism is often scathing. That is why he has launched quixotic defamation actions against several newspapers: he is trying to intimidate the medi into giving him better coverage. Fat chance.

This souring of the media is nicely encapsulated in a post on Prof Anton Harber's Blog. He contrasts the performances of President Mbeki and Jacob Zuma at the international gathering of publishers in Cape Town this week and say Mbeki was astute and careful while Zuma was clueless. This kind of comment illustrates just how disillusioned main stream opinion is with Mr. Zuma and also suggest how elites will try and spin this before the conference. Surely not even the delegates to the ANC conference in December will be immune from all this negative publicity?

Goodbye Jacob. Interested in that diplomatic posting to Tjikitjikistan yet?


Anonymous said...

Prof, you make many good points. One stands out - the strategy of the lawyers. Makes one wonder whether lawyes are still ethically bound to promote 'justice' or whether everything is about money - which is why so many SC's do not want to take up position on the bench.

Pierre de Vos said...

Hmmm a bit harsh but maybe not altogether untrue. We have inherited the accusatory (or I call it the free market!) system of criminal justice, which means a criminal trial is seen as a contest with procedural rules to ensure the game is played fairly. It is not seen in the first place as a process geared towards finding out exactly what happened. The idea is that the contest will be fair but vigorous, which will allow the truth to emerge along the way. Lawyers can therefore use the procedural rules to the advantage of their clients - this in itself is not unethical. I think Zuma's lawyers are not only doing it for the money. They see what happened to Shaik and realise that another strategy is called for f they are going to keep Zuma out of jail.

The Subversive One said...

Very interesting.... I think that diary contains some other information which is could bring the whole house of cards down... Mr T included... I can't remember what I met that guy about in a hotel room somewhere...

It seems so premature to try and stop the state from obtaining evidence. I don't think that the Constitutional Court is going to want to hear too much on this - res ipsa loquitur.. or is that Diaries ipsa loquitur?