There were long odds against the corruption case of African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma going to trial in the midst of his bid to win the presidency in upcoming South African elections. As I have written in previous posts, the ANC is starting to bear an eerie resemblance to political parties elsewhere on the continent, in both its sense of entitlement as well as its manipulation of democratic processes.
But now that South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority has decided not to pursue the case, the former head of the authority's elite Scorpions anti-corruption unit, Leonard McCarthy, is now in the hot seat. McCarthy, who currently leads an anti-corruption unit at the World Bank, was allegedly caught on tape discussing the timing of the release of incriminating evidence against Zuma with former South African president and Zuma rival, Thabo Mbeki. If true, McCarthy may have not only blown his biggest investigation from his time as head of the Scorpions, he may also have put his new World Bank post in jeopardy.
Whatever their outcome, the upcoming elections are surely ones to watch. Zuma is a firebrand populist who, with the weight of an impending prosecution lifted off his shoulders, may decide it's time for a little payback. With a campaign song entitled Bring Me My Machine Gun, Zuma is certainly a man with a plan.
(First published April 8th in World Politics Review)