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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Zuma’s drive-through jail visit is more a clown show than a ‘happy meal’

Correctional services' decision reminds us perhaps the only wasted years were the ones where Zuma didn't pull a fast one on us.

Forget driving with your in-laws, navigating traffic while listening to whether former president Jacob Zuma will return to jail is far more stressful.

Friday’s briefing on the decision was held at a time when many of us were driving to work, grabbing our morning coffee, or trying to rationalise lying in bed a little longer.

In it, correctional services national commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale and minister Ronald Lamola rambled on policy, procedure, and challenges.

Those of us jaded by the testimonies of politicians at the state capture commission or in Parliament got that same old sinking feeling: are we being played?

ALSO READ: Zuma’s next step after ‘special remission’ jail release

After 20 minutes, everyone was still as confused as when the show had started. Would he, or would he not be jailed?

Well, technically both.

You see, the devil was in the detail, and most high-office officials hate revealing the details.

It was only after countless demands by journalists for clarity that it became clear what had happened:
Correctional services had complied with the Supreme Court of Appeals ruling to set aside Zuma’s medical parole by bringing Zuma back to jail.

But like the trickery we became used to during the Zuma “wasted years”/ “years of plenty” there was more. We were about to see the political equivalent of Markus Jooste and Steinhoff‘s creative accounting.

Once in jail, Zuma would be the direct responsibility of correctional services, on the day the department just happened to be announcing and rolling out a “special remission” programme for those over 65, “vulnerable” and serving non-violent crimes.

Zuma fitted the criteria like a glove.

Lamola tried to stem the invariable tide of outrage by assuring us Zuma was one of over 9,000 other inmates getting the remission, it was the president’s discretion to grant it, and that it was not special treatment for the former president.

The remission had been publicly discussed before by Ramaphosa but the timing of its implementation was straight out of the midnight cabinet reshuffle playbook.

Perhaps, like another of Zuma’s appointments told the nation, “We gon’ be alright”.
Maybe we should follow the insistence of the GOOD party and “not be a nation baying for blood”.

ALSO READ: ‘Mockery of the justice system’ – 5 reactions to Zuma’s prison release

We can rely on the judiciary to provide justice and sober thought. Its independence is important to the survival of our nation.

It is equal to the political, so when it is undermined by politicians the foundation of public order and confidence shakes.

Certainly the president holds the power to enact certain decisions by virtue of his office, and the remission of rehabilitated inmates is a worthy act.

But the hope is that is done in virtue and in the interest of the nation as a whole, not only at a time when it happens to benefit one of his party members.

ALSO READ:Zuma’s next step after ‘special remission’ jail release

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