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Kapow!” Like the comic book hero of yore, “with one bound he was free”.
No, not Super Zuma. We’re talking Sidekick Cyril.
For almost nine years, Cyril Ramaphosa was Jacob Zuma’s enabler, turning a blind eye to an unprecedented hollowing out of the state. Nothing much has changed.
Ramaphosa is Zuma’s accomplice in his escape from justice. The granting of a medical pardon to Zuma without him having to spend a single night in a cell, is not only a triumph for the wily former president.
Above all, it’s a testament to the guile of Ramaphosa.
No one, bar Zuma, is happier at how events have played out than is our president. He has at last wriggled free the Zuma albatross.
No words were more heartfelt than Ramaphosa: “We welcome this. We would like to wish him a quick recovery as he is restored back to his home to be with his loved ones.”
Unlike the opposition parties and civil society, Ramaphosa expressed no doubts or reservations. No concern that the decision was taken by Arthur Fraser, a national commissioner of Correctional Services who is an old crony of Zuma.
No concerns that Fraser admits that he had overruled the recommendation of the medical advisory parole board.
No concern that Fraser has handed Zuma the get-out-of-jail card.
Not only has Zuma’s 15-month sentence for contempt of court been invalidated but his 20- year pending corruption trial, which was set to resume on Thursday, is probably dead in the water.
If Zuma is too ill to serve his sentence in a top-notch private hospital room – costing the taxpayer so far, R398 271.04 for two months – then he is surely too ill to appear in court.
Not concern from Ramaphosa that, despite a person who applies for medical parole having to waive patient confidentiality, still do not know what “life-threatening” condition Zuma suffers from.
At the age of 79, even ingrowing toenails are potentially fatal. But the name of the dreaded lurgy that has laid low the previously vital and virile Zuma remains secret.
Another happy beneficiary French arms manufacturer Thales, which shares the dock with Zuma. Although the action against them can proceed without Zuma’s presence, it affords Thales a welcome scapegoat from a man who won’t be there to contradict their evidence.
The parole is a win-win situation for both Zuma and Ramaphosa. Zuma has been squirming for two decades years, trying to avoid conviction, disgrace and a jail sentence. But prospects of the Zuma trial following that likely course were a nightmare also for Ramaphosa.
July’s orchestrated political unrest was a warning to Ramaphosa of worse to come, if a compromise was not reached.
The solution is classic Ramaphosa. As it was with the police crackdown at Marikana, Ramaphosa has shifted the execution of his wishes to forces and institutions nominally beyond his control, while calculating that the result willbenefit him.
As with Marikana, where 34 miners were shot dead and his reputation was grievously wounded, it may backfire.
Zuma’s sudden acquisition of a magical cloak of immunity was not through a brass lamp and a genie.
It could not have happened without Ramaphosa being forewarned and, even if not complicit in the execution, at least acquiescent.