By Azania Post Reporter
Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s time as a free man seems to be running out, and fast.
This time, he does not wield the same power and influence to plot an easy escape route nor the financial backing to prolong his fate in the courts.
But this time, he does not wield the same power and influence that he had six months ago to plot an easy escape route.
Nor does he have the financial backing to prolong his fate in the courts.
It seems then that Zuma will stand trial 13 years after 18 charges of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering were initially brought against him.
Outside the courts, Zuma will face his own judicial commission of inquiry into state capture as well.
His allies are also on the backfoot.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams has acted as Zuma's personal shield from the law.
His performance in 2016 — when he charged fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan by saying "the days of disrespecting the NPA are over", only to have to withdraw the charges — was embarrassing.
Then, until recently, the NPA under his leadership had been missing in action while the country was being rocked by widespread allegations of state capture.
And when the Pretoria High Court found the decision to drop charges against the president was illegal and irrational, Abrahams, along with Zuma, moved to appeal the ruling — but the Supreme Court of Appeal stopped them both in their tracks last year.
Zuma's line of defense at the NPA took the harshest of knocks last year. The High Court ruled that Abrahams' appointment was unlawful and void, ordering him to vacate his post.
The court gave the responsibility of appointing his replacement to the current head of state, President Cyril Ramaphosa. It found that Zuma was too conflicted to make such a decision.
The NPA and Zuma appealed the decision. But, in the strongest indication that Ramaphosa is not sympathetic to Abrahams' plight, he withdrew the presidency's appeal this week, leaving Abrahams to fight the battle for his job alone.
Ramaphosa's state of the nation address also indicated that he would go on the offensive against Abrahams.
"We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilized and able to perform its mandate unhindered," he said.
Abrahams is now left powerless on the Zuma matter.
City Press reported on Sunday that a team of five senior prosecutors, appointed by Abrahams to assess the charges against the former president, unanimously recommended that Zuma face all charges that were previously withdrawn against him.
If true, and Abrahams does not follow through with an announcement that the charges will be reinstated after this unanimous decision, he will entrench the public perception of being a Zuma loyalist.
And this is unlikely to be the case — not when the new sheriff in town has his eyes fixed on Abrahams.
Zuma, then, is in a corner. The NPA has already made moves against the former president's allies, conducting search-and-seizure operations on those linked to the Estina Dairy Project in the Free State.
With nobody in his corner to keep the walls from closing in, Zuma is likely to face his day in court sooner rather than later.