On several occasions in the past 13 years, Jacob Zuma has indicated that he wanted his day in court.
On Friday the former president got just that when he appeared in the Durban High Court to face 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and corruption.
It will undoubtedly be one of South Africa’s longest-running criminal trials, prolonged by Zuma himself fighting tooth and nail NOT to have his day in court.
Zuma bizarrely won the right not to clear his name in 2009 when the ANC bullied then acting prosecution boss Mokotedi Mpshe to drop the charges against him.
This decision was appealed by the DA, leading to the reinstatement of the charges last month. Zuma’s nine-year battle to avoid trial was expensive, involving the best minds and paid for by the taxpayer.
Outside court on Friday Zuma indicated he would continue his fight to prevent the trial from going ahead.
He argued that the reasons for the reinstatement were political because he is the main champion of radical economic transformation and the black cause in general.
Rather ominously he threatened that those who insisted on his being tried would regret it.
So there is now this odd situation in which the prosecution says it is ready to proceed with the trial, but Zuma’s lawyers say they want to put further obstacles in the way.
This will include taking the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams’ decision to prosecute him on review and a permanent stay of prosecution application.
His co-accused, French arms company Thales, aims to make representation to Abrahams on the matter too.
Zuma will be waging his battle on the streets by mobilising malcontents to his cause. So much for someone who wants to clear his name.
Zuma’s further abuse of the legal system is made possible by his abuse of the taxpayers’ pocket.
If he were to pay from his own pockets, maybe Zuma would think twice about engaging in further delays, tell his side of the story and let the courts decide on his fate.
Fortunately, the opposition parties are challenging his tapping into the fiscus to fight his legal battles and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration may not put up too big a fight against them.
Then finally this game will end.