Jacob Zuma the pragmatist

ANC president Jacob Zuma has chosen a pragmatic path since his charges were dropped last week, and instead of going after his detractors — at least in the short term — he’s decided to preach forgiveness and nation building. At an Easter service he advised South Africans “to build a united compassionate and caring nation” and also called for forgiveness.

This makes sense as the country heads for the polls in a week’s time. The electorate would probably not appreciate a a campaign of vengeance at this point.

While it is unclear if he will ever answer to fraud charges, opposition parties have criticised the decision, and, according to the DA’s Helen Zille, it violated the Constitution, it violated the law and it violated the NDPP’s [National Director of Public Prosecutions] own policy”.

“It is an irrational decision, it is an unlawful decision and the reasons given do not hold water because they do not address the question of the merits of the case against Jacob Zuma,” she said.

Congress of the People spokesperson Phillip Dexter called the NPA’s decision “spineless”.

The ANC, on the other hand, believes the decision vindicates Zuma, and, after eight long years, the matter can finally be laid to rest.

The issue, and indeed the man, seems to have polarised the country.

Adding fuel to the fire was a Guardian opinion piece this week in which it was alleged that his leadership style as “morally contaminated”.

Zuma has signalled his intention to sue the paper for defamation and is demanding an apology and damages.

Also this week it emerged that the South African Broadcasting Corporation had decided to pull a documentary, under legal advice, dealing with satire and cartoon strips in South Africa.

In late 2008, Zuma said he was suing cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro — better known as Zapiro, the Sunday Times and its holding company for R7-million over a controversial cartoon published earlier in 2008.

In the cartoon, Zapiro portrayed Zuma unbuckling his belt as he prepares to rape the figurative Lady Justice.

It remains to be seen if Zuma will remain so conciliatory a figure after his ascension to the presidency.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama opened a crack this week on the US embargo on Cuba, allowing US telecommunications firms to start providing service for Cubans and lifting restrictions on family ties to the island. It’s high time the embargo was lifted, and Obama has proved himself willing to open the door to this possibility.
South African Broadcasting Corporation
The SABC has pulled a programme on satire and cartoon strips, saying it needed more time to study its subject matter. Zapiro says the decision displayed how “spineless” the broadcaster’s top echelons were to pull the analysis of satire in SA.

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April 2 to 8 2009

1. The case against Jacob G Zuma
The blizzard of spin focusing on the alleged political conspiracy against Jacob Zuma has diverted attention from the facts of the case against him.

2. NPA drops corruption charges against Zuma
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Monday said it was “neither possible nor desirable for the NPA to continue with the prosecution of Mr Zuma”.

3. Mpshe reveals contents of Ngcuka, McCarthy tapes
African National Congress (ANC) presidential candidate Jacob Zuma’s lawyers earlier this year handed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) “devastating” evidence of collusion between its former officials and former president Thabo Mbeki.

4. Mpshe reveals contents of Ngcuka, McCarthy tapes
African National Congress (ANC) presidential candidate Jacob Zuma’s lawyers earlier this year handed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) “devastating” evidence of collusion between its former officials and former president Thabo Mbeki.

5. ANC ‘disturbed’ by Tutu remarks
The ANC is “increasingly disturbed” by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s comments on the investigation against its president Jacob Zuma.

6. ANC on Zuma: NPA has finally seen the light
There was an outpouring of joy among ANC supporters as the National Prosecuting Authority announced on Monday that it was dropping the charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

7. Zuma: Payments from Shaik were loans
African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday alleged that the more than R4-million payments he received from fraudster Schabir Shaik since the late 1990s were loans.

8. Champagne on ice for JZ
Prosecutors staged a surprise comeback this week in their battle with the National Prosecuting Authority’s chiefs over charges against Jacob Zuma — but the dropping of the charges now looks a done deal.

9. Zuma: I was a victim of abuse
African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said he was a victim of a “systematic abuse of power” and that there was no cloud of corruption hanging over him.

10. Woman on ARVs after blue-light bodyguard spits in her eye
A woman is receiving antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) after the Msunduzi mayor’s bodyguard spat in her face during a confrontation on the N3 highway in KwaZulu-Natal.

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