Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2006-11-08 Reporter: Editorial Reporter:

Apologise, Mr Zuma



Cape Times





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Jacob Zuma may no longer be the country's second-in-command, but as the deputy president of the ruling ANC he still has a responsibility to show leadership.

In the same way that he said "I'm sorry" to South Africa's gay community and for having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman, Zuma must do the right thing and acknowledge that he and his supporters also owe Judge Hilary Squires an apology.

Squires was lambasted and insulted by Zuma's supporters as an apartheid judge and as an ex-Rhodesian cabinet minister who was part of the alleged political conspiracy against their hero.

Zuma himself was quoted by the Mail & Guardian as saying: "In 1963, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Justice Steyn. It was a political trial. I listened to Judge Squires and there was nothing different to what I heard 42 years ago in terms of the political judgment."

A full court of the Supreme Court of Appeal, including judges appointed under the country's democratic dispensation, this week upheld Judge Squires's verdict, including that there was a "generally corrupt relationship" between Zuma and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

Moreover, it was also a vindication of the very National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and members of the Scorpions unit whom Zuma accused of being part of the alleged plot against him.

Zuma was quick to praise judges Willie van der Merwe and Herbert Msimang when they ruled in his favour. However, he also needs to respect the judiciary when things go against him and admit where he has erred.

Perhaps in the same way that he found it in himself to pay tribute to PW Botha when the former state president died last week, Zuma could apologise to Squires.

Moreover, justice must also be allowed to run its course. NPA boss Vusi Pikoli needs to decide whether to prosecute Zuma, free of intimidation or pressure. Given that the search-and-seizure appeal, the outcome of which could influence any prosecution, is only scheduled for the second quarter of next year, a decision to prosecute would fall slap bang in the ANC succession race.

Zuma and his supporters should guard against crying wolf again.

With acknowledgement to the Cape Times.