How world sees SA: Zuma risks criminal conviction – but ANC could keep him out of jail

EDINBURGH — It's no secret in South Africa that Jacob Zuma is clinging to power as a way to resist prosecution and conviction for a string of charges. Although he is no longer leader of the ANC, and failed in his attempt to secure ANC leadership for his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, he is still refusing to go quietly. The Wall Street Journal tells its international readers that immunity from prosecution is unlikely. However, Zuma can expect support from the ANC for legal fees. He might even get a presidential pardon to keep him out of jail. - Jackie Cameron By Thulasizwe Sithole The ANC is set to clash with President Jacob Zuma, who has refused demands by the ruling party that he relinquish power, reports Gabriele Steinhauser for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). "Analysts believe that the threat of prosecution is one of the main reasons the debate over Mr. Zuma’s departure has dragged on. There is no basis for immunity in South Africa’s constitution, but experts have speculated the ANC could offer him assistance with his legal costs or a presidential pardon should he be convicted," she writes.
President Jacob Zuma, Baleke Mbete and Cyril Ramaphosa arrive at parliament to deliver the annual state-of-the-nation address on February 12, 2015. Photographer: Halden Krog/Bloomberg
Pressure on Zuma, who spent 10 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela for his efforts to defeat apartheid, to step down has escalated since December, when his ex-wife and favoured candidate lost the vote to become the new leader of the African National Congress, notes Steinhauser. "Senior ANC members have openly said that they want Mr. Zuma to leave so the party has time before next year’s national elections to try to restore its image, which has been marred by multiple allegations of corruption against Mr. Zuma, his family and some of his closest allies. He has denied wrongdoing," reports the WSJ.
The news organisation hinted of the tensions behind-the-scenes: "On Sunday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who won the December vote and is widely expected to succeed Mr. Zuma as president, promised that the question would be resolved at a meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee on Monday. The meeting concluded around 3 a.m. local time Tuesday —13 hours after it started — with no official word on its outcome. The party said it would hold a news conference on the decisions taken by the committee, known by its acronym NEC, at noon." The WSJ explains the dilemma for the ANC of a vote of no confidence:
"Under the ANC’s internal rules, the NEC has the right to recall its own office bearers, but in practice depends on their willingness to follow its orders. Under South Africa’s constitution, the president can be removed through a vote of no-confidence in Parliament, where the ANC holds the absolute majority required to do so, or impeachment. Parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete has already scheduled a vote of no confidence for Feb. 22, following a request from opposition parties, although that date could be moved up. "Voting its own president out of office would be a risky move for the ANC, which has been tumbling in the polls. Mr. Ramaphosa’s victory for the party leadership was narrow and such an open, and likely humiliating, confrontation with a sitting president threatens to alienate his supporters. ​
Zuma has survived eight no-confidence votes, "each time saved by a thinning majority of ANC lawmakers". The WSJ reminds its readers that Zuma was acquitted in 2006 of raping the daughter of one of his friends, after arguing that their relationship had been consensual. "In 2005, then-president Thabo Mbeki dismissed Mr. Zuma as deputy president over corruption charges that were eventually dropped for procedural reasons. Two years later, he was elected ANC leader and went on to win the presidency." The WSJ describes the past year as "bruising" for the 75-year-old president. "In April, after Zuma fired a popular finance minister and other cabinet members, hundreds of thousands of South Africans took to the streets to demand his exit. Soon after, local media began publishing a trove of leaked emails and other documents that showed how the Guptas, a controversial business family with ties to one of Mr. Zuma’s sons, had allegedly gained outsize influence over government decisions and rich government contracts. The Guptas, Mr. Zuma and his son have all denied wrongdoing." Nkandla is also covered  by the WSJ. "In December, South Africa’s highest court ruled that Parliament had failed to hold Mr. Zuma accountable for a previous finding that he had violated the constitution when he refused to return taxpayer money used to renovate his private residence. He has since repaid the funds. The court ordered Parliament to clarify its rules governing impeachment proceedings, which could be used to remove the president. He is also still fighting a court-ordered reinstatement of the decade-old corruption charges."