Curiously silent

2008-08-02 00:00

All but unanimously, the Constitutional Court has ruled that the contested documents in the Jacob Zuma investigation are admissible as evidence. One major obstacle to bringing the case to trial and eventual judgment has been removed. It is a step towards relieving the current political paralysis, but difficulties still lie ahead.

The sheer number of the documents involved here, some 93 000 of them, underscores the complexity of this case, and doubtless the lawyers for the defence will continue their tactics of frustration. As each legal technicality has to be tested, it may still be many months before a final verdict can be handed down. The way things stand now it is very probable that before that date Zuma, innocent until proven otherwise, would have been invested as president of the country.

Should he be found guilty before then and sentenced to more than a year in prison without the option of a fine, Zuma would no longer be eligible for membership of Parliament, let alone the presidency. Should he take office with that verdict still pending, the nation could face a daunting constitutional crisis.

Thus far the senior leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) has been curiously inert and silent as challenge after challenge has been shouted against the rule of law and the democratic institutions of the state. Surely the moment is now at hand when those who really have the interests of the party and the nation at heart must take proactive measures to avoid this debacle.

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