As someone trained by the Soviets, it is not surprising that Jacob Zuma’s approach to defending himself has been likened to the way the Russians defeated the German army in Stalingrad in the ’40s.
The Russians wore down the Germans with a dogged defence of the city, block by block, street by street and house by house.
When the Germans were nearly exhausted, the Red Army counter-attacked and won the day. So, for more than a dozen years – since he was first presented with charges of corruption – Jacob Zuma has fought his legal and political battles by contesting every document, every allegation and every political committee meeting.
Therefore, it was also not surprising to hear from the office of the presidency that he himself had written to Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to ask for a postponement of the State of the Nation address (Sona).
It appears that it was his request which swayed the decision, Mbete’s comments about preserving parliamentary peace notwithstanding.
The question is: what, exactly, is Zuma up to? He, and the country, know well by now that the ANC wants him to step down as president, just as it did with former president Thabo Mbeki just over a decade ago.
Unlike Mbeki, though, Zuma will fight to the bitter end to get the best deal for himself … as he has done throughout his tenure in the country’s highest office.
Credible reports suggest that he wants immunity from prosecution. Those who support him have been muttering ominously about “civil war” if he is forced out of office in disgrace, which adds to the pressure on ANC top officials.
This debate has now moved beyond the mere question of who delivers the Sona.
This is about ensuring that the law takes its course and Zuma does no further damage to South Africa.