Jacob Zuma in Jail; Rule of Law or Witch-hunting?

Jacob Zuma
The former president was sentenced to 15 months in jail last week

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma handed himself in to police early Thursday to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.

He was admitted to Estcourt Correctional Centre in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

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Police had warned that they were prepared to arrest him if he did not hand himself in by midnight.

Zuma, 79, was handed the jail term last week after he failed to attend a corruption inquiry.

The sentencing sparked an unprecedented legal drama in South Africa, which has never seen a former president jailed before.

Zuma had initially refused to hand himself in, but in a short statement on Wednesday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said he had “decided to comply”.

His daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, later wrote on Twitter that her father was “en route [to the jail] and he is still in high spirits”.

Zuma supporters
Zuma’s supporters have protested against his arrest

Zuma was sentenced on 29 June for defying an instruction to give evidence at an inquiry into corruption during his nine years in power. He has testified only once at the inquiry into what has become known as “state capture” – meaning the siphoning off of state assets.

Businessmen have been accused of conspiring with politicians to influence the decision-making process while he was in office. But Zuma has repeatedly said that he is the victim of a political conspiracy.

In a separate legal matter, Zuma pleaded not guilty last month in a corruption trial involving a $5bn (£3bn) arms deal from the 1990s.

Despite his tarnished reputation, the former president carries substantial weight among officials and grassroots members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The former herdboy was the ANC’s intelligence chief during the armed struggle against apartheid and spent 10 years in jail on notorious Robben Island.

Despite its internal tensions and divisions, the ANC said it would not interfere with the judiciary processes enveloping Zuma.

However some political analysts believe its a witch hunt to jail Zuma and the current President Cyril Ramaphosa shouldn’t be quite on it yet others say Zuma should pay for his sins to caution others holding public office not to miss use them.

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