(Johannesburg) The conditional release on medical grounds granted to former South African President Jacob Zuma at the weekend a few days before his corruption case resumed angered opposition and groups on Monday that denounced a political decision.
Posted on Sep 6, 2021 at 11:39 am
Mr. Zuma, 79, incarcerated for disobeying justice since July 8, was hospitalized for one month outside the prison, where he was serving a 15-month sentence, for undisclosed reasons.
He was convicted of repeatedly refusing to appear before a commission investigating state corruption during his presidency (2009-2018).
On Sunday, prison authorities announced that the former head of state could return home after he was released from the hospital, but would likely have to do community service.
The announcement, which coincided with a summit of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in which Jacob Zuma still has many supporters, was “extremely suspicious,” said John Steenhuisen, a leader of the First Party of Africa, the Democratic Alliance (THERE).
“This decision is political, not medical,” he criticized.
This latest twist in Mr Zuma’s legal twists and turns proves that “if you have political connections, jail is not a place for you,” said Mmusi Maimane of One South Africa advocacy group.
Political parties and opposition groups are demanding that the authorities publicly disclose the stages of the process leading up to this probation.
According to a prison source, this was based on the opinions of doctors who stated that Mr. Zuma’s health “requires close attention”.
For the opposition group ActionSA it is rather the fact of a “penal system that treats the most powerful with gloves and allows them to escape justice”.
The corruption process against Zuma is set to continue on Thursday. The hearing was postponed last month pending a medical report on his suitability for trial.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if this parole release is now an excuse to say he’s not negotiable,” Naidoo said.
In this 20-year-old affair, the ex-president is accused of receiving bribes from French arms giant Thalès, who is accused on his side of corruption and money laundering. He has faced sixteen cases of fraud, corruption and extortion.
The detention of Mr. Zuma sparked an unprecedented wave of violence in South Africa. His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, had denounced an orchestrated attempt to destabilize the country.