Editorial: Brazen Fraser must account for freeing Zuma

Johannesburg – The surprise release of former president Jacob Zuma, after spending less than two months in jail, has understandably offended a lot of people.

The release is indicative of a corrupt system presided over by people who would not hesitate to subvert the rule of law for their own nefarious political objectives.

Zuma walked a free man this week after he was granted parole on medical grounds by the commissioner of Correctional Services, Arthur Fraser, who is himself known to be a Zuma acolyte.

He has unashamedly admitted to releasing the former statesman despite a recommendation by the Medical Parole Advisory Board that Zuma must not be released as he did not fall under the category of terminally ill prison inmates. It was the board’s view that the former ANC president’s health condition was stable – a view Fraser audaciously chose to ignore with a stroke of a pen.

We don’t criticise Fraser’s decision merely because we want to see Zuma suffer in jail.

The man is old, and he’ll soon turn 80 years old.

His incarceration was a clear demonstration that no one – including former presidents – is above the law.

It set an excellent example.

Zuma showed the Constitutional Court, the country’s apex court, the middle finger even as his close friends and associates, as well as his ANC comrades, pleaded with him to obey the laws of the land.

He instead chose to listen to political delinquents he’d surrounded himself with. He chose to define himself outside the laws governing all of us as citizens of this republic.

He sought to convince citizens that the Zondo Commission, strangely set up by himself, was designed to target him as an individual.

He failed to realise that most people in his inner circle sought to use him as a convenient proxy in their desperate battles to avoid facing the inevitable consequences of their thievery and rampant lawlessness.

Most of these people are shameless thieves who have raided the public purse with gay abandon as, under Zuma, the rule of law neared total collapse.

It was important that Zuma be jailed because a dangerous precedent would have been set if he was allowed to violate the constitution without facing any consequences. It would have meant that powerful people enjoy their own set of rules, different from those governing the rest of us.

Zuma’s incarceration was an important deterrent and warning to those people who would in future dare to defy the country’s laws.

It served as an important warning that they could disregard the law only at their own peril. The manner of Zuma’s release is a serious blow to the very same principle that sent him to jail. Fraser’s brazenness has recreated perceptions that the law is lenient towards powerful individuals.

It is difficult to fathom why Fraser was so impatient to see Zuma out of jail, as the man would have been eligible for parole after four months of his 15-month sentence.

Like Zuma, Fraser must be made to account for his unlawful action.

To read more political news and views from this week’s newspaper, click here. 

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