Graphic: Wade Geduldt / African News Agency (ANA)
By Sihle Mavuso
Former President Jacob Zuma continues to be a news maker on the South African and, to some extent, the African political landscape.
In the previous week, Zuma dominated the news when his medical parole came to an end and he jumped back into politics.
His dominance of the news cycle has even surpassed the Phala Phala scandal which many expected to be in the news for the longest time considering that President Cyril Ramaphosa has to provide answers, despite his frantic attempts to evade accountability.
Here is what happened in the past week and what the week ahead would look like in terms of political developments.
Zuma: Downer, Maughan and the return of the corruption trial
In the past week, Zuma took an extraordinary step and dragged Advocate Billy Downer SC, a senior prosecutor in his arms deal trial, to the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Alongside Downer, Zuma also took journalist Karyn Maughan from News24 to court.
The alleged offence is that Downer, a state prosecutor from the NPA, leaked his medical records to Maughan and they were illegally published by News24. Zuma argues that was in violation of his privacy and the two must be penalised by the court.
His decision to privately prosecute the two comes after the NPA declined to prosecute them. Zuma then took the private prosecution route. The matter has since been postponed to February.
Zuma supporters have welcomed what they call a reversal of roles – in the past Zuma has been in the dock with Downer leading the prosecution against him. But in the week ahead, Zuma is expected to dominate the news as he returns to the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his corruption trial which has been on and off since 2005.
The case will likely not proceed as Zuma has since directly approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to force Downer out of the case as he alleges it has been compromised by Downer’s unethical conduct.
Zuma’s route to the ConCourt comes after the Supreme Court of Appeals dismissed him. With the case now before the apex court, the corruption trial on Monday will likely not go ahead until the matter has been finalised.
ANC: Branches continue with nominations
Nominations for the ANC’s December conference is still in full swing. As results stream in it has become obvious that it’s not a clear cut race for ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and his well-funded camp.
Former health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize is putting up a fierce fight and he looks set to give Ramaphosa a run for his money. Having notched KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhize and his team have turned their attention to key provinces like the Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga.
Another contender in the running is Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who continues to notch nominations in KwaZulu-Natal. However, she is yet to get a nomination outside the province.
With more branches expected to convene this week, the battle for the soul of the ANC is expected to become clearer. By the end of the month, once all the branches have sat, a clear picture will emerge of who is likely to win the battle.
The Mkhwebane matter
Suspended Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is still engaged in a legal battle to return to work after the Western Cape High Court ruled in her favour but said the ruling should be confirmed by the ConCourt.
Mkhwebane is arguing that she should have returned to work immediately but the court has said no, sticking to its earlier ruling the order that it must first go to the ConCourt,.
Mkhwebane has wanted the court to give clarity and allow her to go back to work.
This legal battle by Mkhwebane is one of the many she has waged to keep her job after her suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa in May this year. Another legal battle she is still engaged in is the one where a parliamentary committee is probing her fitness to hold office.
When it resumes, she is expected to wage a fight to dispute some of the testimonies and fight to have some witnesses removed.
Amended Zondo Commission state capture report
The state capture commission, which was headed by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is an unending story with twists and turns all the time.
Recently, Zondo applied to the court to have the report corrected. It later turned out that one of the most prominent corrections was that Zondo recommended that former home affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, should be prosecuted for alleged corruption he committed with the Gupta family.
This has led to an uproar, with critics claiming that Zondo would time and again correct the report and argue for the prosecution of certain individuals. In the case of Gigaba, the previous report had made no findings against him despite making scathing comments.
With the latest developments, Gigaba’s bid for the top office in the ANC has suffered a setback as he may be charged and dragged to court before December, thus hampering his political ambitions.
Lesotho elections and the future of the kingdom
The kingdom of Lesotho recently held elections and the results left many observers surprised when the seven-month-old revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party formed by magnate Sam Maketane won 56 of the 120 seats.
The party then went on to form a coalition with the Alliance for Democrats and the Movement for Economic Change and kicked out the All Basotho Convention from power.
While the win ushers Lesotho into a new era, the fact that the RFP did not obtain an outright majority is worrying as coalition governments in the Kingdom have not worked in the past, hence there have been five elections in 10 years and Lesotho has been in political turmoil.
It would have been better if voters gave the party an outright majority so that it governs alone for five years. With this arrangement, a minor disagreement could collapse the coalition and take Lesotho back to square one.
SADC visit to Swaziland as turmoil continues in the kingdom
Early this week, the SADC executive secretary, Elias Magosi, paid a courtesy visit to King Mswati III of Eswatini as the body seeks to find a lasting solution in the kingdom, which has been in turmoil for the past three years.
The crisis in the kingdom was sparked by demands for political reforms and the King responded by ordering the army to crush them. In the aftermath, two MPs who are vocal against Mswati’s misrule, Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi Mabuza, have been in jail since then and their sham trial has been postponed on several occasions.
There have been reports that Mswati has ordered his security forces to routine assault them while in custody. Magosi did not state what he discussed with the king except to announce his presence in the kingdom through social media.
Mavuso is a journalist at www.iol.co.za and writes on current affairs in South Africa and parts of the SADC region.