Zuma, who is widely tipped to become the next President of South Africa, was back in Pietermaritzburg this week for a two-day hearing on the legality of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money-laundering charges laid against him last year.
With thousands of his supporters cheering him on, Zuma didn’t disappoint them or the large contingent of media representatives.
Addressing the crowd following his hearing, Zuma vowed to take down other officials if the state continued to pursue him for alleged corruption in the country’s multi-billion rand arms deal.
The Mail & Guardian newspaper said Zuma had every right to defend himself by using every legal avenue, “but as a leader, he is also responsible for ensuring that his and his supporters’ actions do not terminally damage the country he so desperately wants to lead”.
“The single-minded struggle to ensure that Zuma moves into the Union Buildings has spawned a massive campaign of intimidation of the judiciary and other democratic institutions, which looks set to dominate the political landscape over at least the medium term,” the paper said.
The Times said the legal saga seemed to be far from over.
“If the ANC president is really concerned about corruption in the government and within his party, he should expose them whether he is put on trial or not. As things stand, the delaying tactics could work for now, but the chickens could come home to roost if the issue is not dealt with speedily and expeditiously.
”If, by April next year, there is no finality in the matter, we could have a situation in which Zuma is inaugurated with a cloud hanging over his head. This will not be good news for our country’s image and reputation abroad,” it said.
The Sowetan slammed Zuma’s delay tactics: “First Jacob Zuma begged for his day in court, but now he’s got it, the ANC president is trying every trick in the book to evade standing in the dock.”
The newspaper said it was time that Zuma showed ”some leadership and defends himself in court before he rips the country and its institutions to shreds”.
It pointed out that even Chief Justice Pius Langa observed that Zuma’s legalistic attempts to block his prosecution were holding justice to ransom.
”His legal team has so far tried more than 30 bids to keep their client out of court,” it said, adding: “If Zuma had a shred of common decency left in his body and were not driven by blind ambition, he would spare the country and its institutions any further trauma and submit to his fate”. Panapress .