South Africa: Zuma's Spy Claims Are Implausible, Paranoid, and a Red Herring

Former South African president Jacob Zuma at the State Capture Inquiry on July 15, 2019.
analysis

Jacob Zuma, his legal team and his supporters are clearly trying to make this a case of an illegitimate commission versus the persecution of a popular liberation hero.

Former President Jacob Zuma's introductory remarks before the Zondo Commission on 15 July could not have been more dramatic, even if they had been scripted for a TV soap opera.

Zuma clearly came to the commission with at least three objectives:

  • To undermine the overall legitimacy of the commission, without appearing uncooperative;
  • To divert the attention of the commission, the media and public opinion in general from the "State Capture" mandate of the commission; and
  • To project himself as the victim of an elaborate plot engineered by domestic and foreign intelligence services, going back to the early 1990s, to keep him from gaining or retaining political power.

In this regard, Zuma and his legal team used a number of lines of attack (and attempts at distraction):

Questioning the initial motivation of the Public Protector (Thuli Madonsela) in recommending the establishment of the commission;

Causing confusion about the availability of documents, as well as about processes and procedures of the commission (similar to his defence strategy in recent court cases);

Indicating that he...

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