Former president Jacob Zuma, surrounded by his security team, appeared at court on Tuesday looking somewhat apprehensive. He had not been welcomed by his expected swooning, singing supporters as the buses had been cancelled.
When you lose your power you lose the slush funds. Now running out of funds, his support team will slowly drift away.
He still retains his status as number one though. However, the label has changed. He is now accused number one, instead of number one in the country.
Senior deputy director of Public Prosecutions Billy Downer SC informed the court that the state is ready to set the trial date and “open the batting”.
“We remain ready. There are practical considerations. We have been informed that there are applications for leave to appeal, and this process must take place. The state will be opposing the applications.”
Zuma’s counsel must file the application for leave to appeal by November 15. All five judges of the Supreme Court will consider the application. The state is of the view that there is enough time for the full court to consider the matter.
The pre-trial date has been set for February 4, 2020. All parties are in agreement that the matter be adjourned to this date, including the counsel for French arms company Thales.
The state will be pushing for the earliest criminal trial date, which will be determined after that. The formal process of compiling the pre-trial minutes will start immediately.
Zuma’s counsel ingenuously blamed the state for the wasted 15 years, thus denying Zuma the right to prove his innocence. In reality, the delays were mainly of Zuma’s own making.
Zuma and counsel were “heartened” to hear that the prosecuting team is ready to go ahead.
And aren’t we all?
However, before breaking out the champagne to celebrate the granting of Zuma’s wish to prove his innocence and dispel the alleged conspiracy theories against him, counsel reminded the court that Zuma will exercise his full constitutional rights and his right to appeal.
If the leave for appeal is turned down, costs may be awarded against the former president.
He is already pleading poverty.
With no power to give favours – who will be prepared to fund him?
Zuma is no doubt coming to the end of the road. He should be reminded of the words of Judge Mahomed Navsa, the Supreme Court of Appeal’s Acting Deputy President, in the Spy Tapes judgment. Navsa described the litigation between the National Director of Public Prosecutions and Zuma as having a “long and troubled history and the law reports are replete with judgments dealing with the matter”.
Navsa aptly cited TS Eliot in this regard:
In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending …
Allegory of the freedom fighter
The young bull fights his way up, taking every opportunity to mate at will, oozing power. But now his power is waning, and his days of fighting to be head of the herd are over. The herd has moved on, leaving the Ou Ballie behind. Alone in the hills, with no protection, the pack of hyena – technically a cackle of hyena – creeps towards the underbelly.
The state is champing at the bit, and is unlikely to allow any ducking and diving. It is focused on its goal of having Zuma appear in the criminal court. I’m not sure where the ANC stands – some officials are speaking in forked tongues and are of the view that they can support Zuma against the state in their personal capacity. Awkward.
Outside the building after the court appearance, a motley bunch of supporters had arrived and Zuma broke into his little smile and swung into his usual song and dance routine. It wouldn’t assist him in prison. He should start practising his golf swing.
The application for leave to appeal is sure to be harshly dealt with.