In the current climate of Zumaphobia, if you want to commit political suicide, then defend President Jacob Zuma at the height of his notoriety. So here goes.
I firmly believe the young women who demonstrated in honour of Khwezi at the culmination of the local government election, were out of order. They were there as Julius Malema’s groupies and the #RhodesMustFall activists.
Regrettably, their pseudo-feminist stunt worked and was posted again and again on social media to coincide with National Women’s Day. If those groupies kept their silent protest at a mass Zuma rally, it would have shown more courage than this display of political theatre at the Independent Electoral Commission.
The chattering classes forget that this rape case went to court in 2006, over which Judge Willem van der Merwe presided meticulously. Much against many’s bloodlust against the accused, Zuma was found not guilty.
I therefore believe that the office of the president was demeaned at the announcement of the elections – an outcome that made SA shine in the eyes of the world, accruing kudos for even the despised No 1, given the ructions with elections all over the world. Judge Van der Merwe made a thorough judgment when political pressure was such that it would have been easy to find Zuma guilty and placate a public who had found the prez guilty through the media, and send an incensed crowd, sporting “100% Zulu Boy” T-shirts, happy with the findings, home.
But the legal outcome was not what Zuma’s enemies and the chattering classes wanted. At the time, I was the only feminist that put my head above the parapet and dared to write a column, even before the court case, pleading with the public – and feminists in particular – to give Zuma his day in court and not portray the woman solely as a victim.
Strange facts emerged from the cross-examination. Yes, Zuma irresponsibly had unprotected sex with a HIV-positive woman; he said stupid things about HIV, her skirt, the shower, etc. But it was clear that the sex was consensual. In her testimony, equally strange revelations were made: she voluntarily went to his room; Zuma’s daughter was in the house; she waited until the next day to report, despite security on the premises; she had some dubious history in exile with a series of allegations of rape. To crown it all, she phoned the minister of intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, the next day to report the incident. Strange coincidence? I think not.
Just because we don’t like our president, does not mean he has no rights. Offenders have rights until proven guilty. Look at Oscar Pistorius. Much loathed by women, Pistorius uses the courts again and again to secure some rights regardless of what we feel about this brutal murder. That is the law, and the law is a bitch.
It is troubling that intelligent people recklessly claim Zuma had raped with no regard to Van der Merwe’s meticulous judgment. The rule of law means accepting outcomes we don’t agree with.
It was Greek philosopher Aristotle who said: “Law is reason free from passion.” US lawyer Christopher Darden more clinically said: “The law has no compassion. And justice is administered without compassion.”