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No quick end seen in Zuma case


Keith Gottschalk, The University of the Western Cape

gottschalk_resized.jpegJacob Zuma’s legal team has already proved, year after year that, if you have a bottomless pocket such as taxpayers, you can protract litigation, U.S.-style for the better part of a decade.

    The Presidency currently has a line item budget of 10 million rand per year for Zuma’s legal expenses. By South African standards, this is a record. It will certainly enable his legal team to appeal every point of procedure, then if necessary the verdict, and sentence. Each appeal starts with a delay of six or nine months on the court rolls, repeated as it winds it way upwards through a full bench of the High Court, followed by the Supreme Court of Appeal, followed by the Constitutional Court.

    Sooner or later Zuma’s lawyers will also discover that above the highest court in South Africa lies the new Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal, based in Windhoek, already resorted to by Zimbabwean white ranchers.

    In short, it’s unimaginable that Zuma’s trial will have concluded by election day in 2009. The last appeal might well stretch even beyond a one-term Zuma presidency, which would end in 2014.