Last week, the African National Congress selected Jacob Zuma as its leader, which ordinarily, given the party’s domination of South African politics, is a first step toward becoming president of the nation. However, South African prosecutors yesterday levied new charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering to go along with and earlier indictment of fraud and corruption. President Mbeki, a political opponent of Zuma, had fired him as the deputy leader of the nation after he was acquitted on rape charges, but his financial advisor was sent to jail for soliciting bribes. The new indictment was denounced by many sectors of the African National Congress as stemming from a vendetta by President Mibeki.
Ironically, all players in this crime drama belong to the same political organization– the African National Congress. Zuma’s trial will begin in April, 2008 and he has promised to step down from running for the presidency if he is convicted. Although, he has made that promise not all observers believe he will carry it out. Jacob Zuma plays the role of radical reformer who is on the side of the average African. This performance has gotten him popularity, but along the way, there are simply too many charges and indictments to make him other than a dubious leader of a nation that holds the mantle as conscience of the African continent. A true leader would retire gracefully from the scene, don’t hold your breath for this happening in the near future, regardless of the outcome of his trial.