There’s ‘no cloud’ over Zuma

Mmanaledi Mataboge quizzed academic Sipho Seepe, a prominent member of Jacob Zuma’s camp

The NPA’s decision was not an acquittal. How is this likely to affect the Zuma presidency?
The opposition will always have this notion that a cloud is hanging over Zuma’s head. I’m not convinced that people are tainted for a long time. I believe that within a few weeks South Africans will be focusing on issues of service delivery. Electioneering will be over, so this matter will be irrelevant. Once he gets into the presidency, people will be interested in what’s in it for them.

Isn’t it true that Bulelani Ngcuka and Leonard McCarthy’s alleged connivance did not exonerate Zuma and that there is still a case to be answered?
The only way he could have had exoneration would have been though a court of law. But we mustn’t underestimate the fact that there was an abuse of the [legal] system. People like Helen Zille know that even in democratic states such as the United States once the process is contaminated the court won’t continue with the case.

There’s a school of thought that the corruption charges have irreparably damaged Zuma’s image and that he could have cleared his name in court.
It depends on who’s looking at it. For Zuma’s supporters they see it [the NPA’s decision] as the end of the road — even the NPA said it’s the end of the road. I’ve always argued that if the NPA was so strong on any of the charges, all it had to do was to take just one charge and go to court with it, instead of creating a mass meeting of charges. It’s like they said: ”Let’s put as many charges as possible, maybe we might win.”

Can South Africans forget the charges and begin to respect Zuma as a credible politician?
Look at Mbeki’s denial of HIV/Aids. So many people died, but towards the end of his presidency people were no longer talking about it. But here the question is: who are we forgiving? The fact that the NPA said it had a strong case is just nonsense. The NPA won’t come out and say: ”We have a weak case.”

How can Zuma take the nation into his confidence on these corruption allegations?
He should talk to us — but that wouldn’t change some people’s positions, people who’ve made up their mind. There are about 40% of South Africans who already believe he is guilty.

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Mmanaledi Mataboge
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