News analysis: R2bn Zuma payoff: The devil’s alternative or no comeback guaranteed?

Picture credit:  Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
Picture credit: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

If this were a Frederick Forsyth thriller‚ you could imagine a plot twist that would involve a multibillion-dollar payoff to a head of state to bugger off.

The deal would be presented by a guy in a leather jacket and a face tattoo‚ who would go nose to nose with President Crooked Dictator to make it clear he did not have much of a choice.

 In that scenario the president‚ probably in military uniform‚ would break out into a cold sweat and flee with the briefcase into a waiting chopper‚ which would then be shot down by another villain in Ray Bans and a black turtleneck.

 This is South Africa‚ a constitutional state where the rule of law might be under attack but still exists. An “amnesty package” for President Jacob Zuma would be illegal and illogical — no matter how many zeroes you add to it.

Who would “face tattoo guy” be in this scenario? Who in this country would be in the position to negotiate an amnesty package that would be applicable to all future administrations?

If it is an emissary of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ what guarantee is there that his guy is going to win the presidency or will have control over what all future national directors of public prosecutions would do?

 Are the criminal charges that are to be expunged the 783 counts of fraud or corruption relating to the Shaik trial or all future charges relating to the massive swirly that is now the Gupta empire?

 If they relate to corruption around state capture‚ how would the deal be settled if nobody knows what the charges are yet?

 Therefore what would the agreement entail? An admission of guilt from Zuma‚ especially when criminality is not yet legally determined?

Have you met Jacob Zuma

 He lives by the precept of plausible deniability. He would not admit to wearing spectacles even with the existence of countless images of him pushing them up with his middle finger!

And under which laws would such an amnesty deal work?

 Amnesty was used as a tool of transitional justice in terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but under very specific conditions and time periods. There are various other forms of amnesty — credit amnesty‚ tax amnesty‚ firearm amnesty — but no political amnesty.

Statutory amendments would therefore need to be passed in parliament to exonerate someone from charges past‚ present and future based on a political settlement.

 Can you imagine any of the opposition parties participating in such a process? Can you imagine the entire EFF caucus mauling anyone proposing such a ridiculous thing?

 Presuming “face tattoo guy” actually exists and made such a proposition to Zuma‚ which South African businessmen would be silly enough to give him R2-billion to give to Zuma?

What guarantee would they have that Zuma will not just take the money and stay put?

Many people are desperate to get rid of Zuma and‚ as a result‚ there is a lot of wishful thinking and conjecture. But just because someone says they can make a tokoloshe kidnap him‚ let’s not believe it is possible.

X