Gareth Cotterell
Digital News Editor
3 minute read
17 Nov 2021
2:34 pm

King’s gambit? Zuma considering his next move, says foundation

Gareth Cotterell

Jacob Zuma, the avid chess player, is apparently contemplating his next move around 'developments in the country'. Here are the battles the former president is fighting.

The JG Zuma Foundation tweeted a photo of the former president playing chess. Picture: Twitter/@JGZ_Foundation

In a vague tweet of Jacob Zuma playing chess, the former president’s foundation says he will make his move “at the right time”.

The Jacob G Zuma Foundation released the tweet late on Tuesday night.

In the tweet, the foundation suggested Zuma was considering the “developments and strange moves in the country”, and was thinking long and hard about his next move.

Zuma is a keen chess player and it is thought he used those skills to outmanoeuvre his opponents during his presidency. Testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture also suggested he was masterful at always being a few moves ahead of his opponents. He allegedly used these skills to expertly place his pawns in important positions within critical sectors, such as the judiciary an state security.

Although the tweet on Tuesday night did not specify what Zuma would be using his chess skills for, these are some of the issues he is facing at the moment:

Tax records

On Tuesday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that two media houses can have access to Zuma’s tax records.

Judge Norman Davis ruled on Tuesday afternoon that the South African Revenue Service (Sars) must hand over Zuma’s tax records to amaBhungane and Financial Mail within 10 days. Sars previously refused the requests on the grounds of taxpayer confidentiality.

The media houses applied for access to Zuma’s taxpayer records after Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, claimed the former president wasn’t tax compliant.

Arms deal trial

Zuma is also still facing prosecution in the long-running arms deal corruption trial.

In October, the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed Zuma’s application to have state prosecutor Billy Downer recused from the trial.

Judge Piet Koen dismissed Zuma’s special-plea application and ordered that his corruption trial should proceed.

Zuma and French arms manufacturer Thales are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. He, along with the firm, are facing multiple counts including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

The former president, however, is appealing that ruling.

Medical parole

In July, Zuma was found in contempt of court and arrested. This came after he refused to appear at the state capture commission, despite being subpoenaed. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

However, in September, Zuma was released on medical parole, for an as-yet-undisclosed illness.

Zuma also showed up at his polling station in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, to vote in the local government elections on November 1. He looked happy and healthy while casting his vote. 

In October, former Correctional Services national commissioner Arthur Fraser defended his decision to release Zuma on medical parole. Fraser said he granted Zuma parole to avoid any unrest, which may have been triggered if the former president’s health was put at risk.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and AfriForum have gone to court to challenge Zuma’s medical parole.

Legal bills

Being involved in so many court cases can be costly.

In August, Zuma’s foundation appealed to the public for donations to cover his legal fees.

The foundation posted its banking details on Twitter and asked citizens to “lend a helping hand” to assist the convicted former president.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) earlier this year dismissed Zuma’s bid to overturn a 2018 judgment that he had to foot the legal bill for his corruption case himself. He was ordered to repay an estimated R25 million that the state had previously forked out.