Life after Zuma

Zuma’s trial is just one symptom of South Africa’s problems, Neil Thompson reports

Having resigned in disgrace in February, former president Jacob Zuma is currently facing 16 charges of corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering. The charges relate to 783 counts of alleged wrongdoing linked to a $2.5 billion arms deal in the late 1990s when Zuma was deputy president.

Although this might seem like progress in a South Africa where political elites are increasingly seen as corrupt, Zuma’s trial is ‘very much a [historical] case’ – according to Africa analyst Martin Roberts.

However, David Lewis, from South African NGO Corruption Watch, said it was a good thing the former leader was finally having his day in court, adding that for years no-one had ever been held accountable and that Zuma’s trial, even on old charges, would encourage more insiders to turn state’s witness and help investigators.

Zuma’s trial is just one symptom of South Africa’s problems. While the former ANC leader was going to court to try to force South African taxpayers to fund his legal fight, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to leave a Commonwealth summit in London early after violent ‘service delivery’ protests erupted in his country’s restive Northwest province.

Demonstrators demanded jobs, better quality housing, the realization of promised infrastructure improvements and an end to corruption, neatly summing up the shortcomings of Zuma’s administration.

With large protests against evictions breaking out in Cape Town, South Africa’s second most populous city, it seems like even more South Africans are losing patience. Axolile Notywala, from the Social Justice Coalition, told local media: ‘We are here today because we want land. Thousands of people are here today because they are frustrated. There are thousands more people across the country who are feeling the same way.’