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Just like Trump, Zuma’s narcissism knows no bounds

Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/AFP pool

Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/AFP pool

Published Feb 3, 2021

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In a few days, the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump gets under way in the US Senate.

He will be charged with inciting a deadly insurrection on the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, two weeks before he was to leave the office of the president of the United States of America.

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Now a private citizen, Trump will have to account for his actions on the day in which hundreds of his supporters stormed America’s legislative complex, baying for blood over false claims that Joe Biden won a rigged election on November 3 last year.

In South Africa, we have the case of former president Jacob Zuma. Despite, for years, charging that he wanted his day in court, he has been using every trick, or rather a Stalingrad defence, to escape accountability for his days in office.

Zuma’s latest stunt, vowing to defy a Constitutional Court order that he appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture Commission, might warm the hearts of his die-hard supporters but it sets a test for the rule of law in South Africa.

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When Nelson Mandela was summoned to court by rugby boss Louis Luyt (over an executive decision), he abided, knowing he was not on trial but rather the rule of law.

If a former president can defy a court of law on a whim, how should ordinary citizens respond when they are hauled before a court?

Like Trump, Zuma’s narcissism knows no bounds and, like a wrecking ball, he will destroy, and call into question South Africa’s constitutional order if it keeps him from baring account and staying out of orange overalls.

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How we deal with the likes of Zuma, and those accused of corruption, in the public or the private sector, will determine whether South Africa stays true to its constitutional promise.

In his defiance, Zuma might think he is the target of a grand conspiracy, hatched by his political opponents but there’s none so blind as those who won’t see.

His supporters and army of lawyers might be egging him on, but someone should tell Zuma that in this tale, there's no happy ending and he does not come out of it triumphantly.

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Jacob Zuma

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