The turn of the Godfather: Will Zuma speak, sing or spar?

Former president Jacob Zuma (Gallo Images)
Former president Jacob Zuma (Gallo Images)

Zuma has never owned up to any mistakes, except when his lawyers forced him to take some blame for the Nkandla scandal to avoid impeachment. Don't expect him to enlighten us on where the loot is stashed now, writes Adriaan Basson.

Former president Jacob Zuma is likely to use Monday's appearance before the Zondo commission into state capture to portray himself as a victim instead of answering penetrating questions about his own culpability.

Since his first appearance on charges of corruption relating to the arms deal in 2005, Zuma has used every judicial platform at which he appeared to drum up support for his cause, using a mixed cocktail of Zulu nationalism, conspiracy and victimhood.

When he was charged with corruption, Zuma blamed former president Thabo Mbeki and the Scorpions for conspiring to keep him out of power.

When he was charged with rape, Zuma blamed dark forces in the National Prosecuting Authority and the ANC who wanted to end his political career.

When he breached his oath of office by allowing the state to spend more than R200m on upgrades to his personal homestead in Nkandla, Zuma blamed a combination of "clever blacks", white elite who couldn't pronounce "Nkandla" and overeager civil servants.

When he was accused of state capture by allowing the Guptas and his son Duduzane to extract billions from the state, Zuma blamed "white monopoly capital" (WMC) and the West.

Who knows who Zuma will blame on Monday? All we can be sure of is that he will use the public platform given to him by the Zondo commission to accuse someone else for his trials and tribulations.

Because nothing is ever Zuma's fault.

Zuma has never owned up to any mistakes, except when his lawyers forced him to take some blame for the Nkandla scandal to avoid impeachment.

Don't expect him to enlighten us all on Monday and spill the beans on who did what and who got what and where the hidden loot is stashed when he finally appears before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, a man he appointed in June 2017.

Zuma has three options: to assist the commission with its work by answering comprehensively and truthfully to the commission's questions; to use the platform as a stage to drum up popular support, or to put up a fight with Zondo and his colleagues about the direction they have taken and what he really thinks they should be looking at.

Zuma has been an outspoken critic of the commission and the fact that they are "targeting" him and his family and friends. Don't be surprised if he tells Zondo rather to investigate those white businessmen he labels "WMC".

It is a matter of public record that Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas met British public relations firm Bell Pottinger in 2016 to brief them on a campaign to champion "economic apartheid" to counter the narrative that Zuma should be blamed for all South Africa's ills.

Before the WMC campaign was officially "launched" by the Guptas, Zumas and Bell Pottinger, Zuma had no issue with white business and included them on his international investment trips since he became president in 2009.

The timing is clear: the WMC campaign was launched in reaction to former public protector Thuli Madonsela's state capture investigation, that connected the dots between the Zumas, the Guptas and several state-owned enterprises. These SEOs were sucked dry by various middlemen and consultants like Trillian and McKinsey.

The parlous state of Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Prasa is the price we are paying for a decade of state capture and rent seeking.

In the meantime, the Guptas are living it up in India and Dubai, hosting wedding after wedding with their South African dividends.

Zuma may not provide many answers, but at least he is now part of the process that has unfolded as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for corruption post-1994.

- Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.

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