Former president Jacob Zuma cynically threw the dice for the umpteenth time – only to come up empty-handed at the Zondo Commission into State Capture on Friday.
No mean slouch at using legal tactics in his patented Stalingrad defence, Zuma has opted in recent times to try to defend himself in the court of public opinion instead.
He has been determined to avoid appearing in front of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. It’s understandable – 34 witnesses to the commission have already implicated him.
On Friday Zondo, after hearing argument from the commission’s legal team, formally authorised the issuing of a summons against Zuma to compel him to attend next month.
In truth, Zondo had no option, not after Zuma had failed to respond positively to the commission’s invitation. This time short of being seriously ill or incapacitated, he’ll have to make the trip to Johannesburg or make arrangements to testify virtually.
Zuma and his supporters can shout as much as they want. They can project whatever conspiracy theory they want in the media, but the truth is that Zuma has brought all of this upon himself. He presided over the period under investigation.
Zuma has forever declared he wants his day in court only to frustrate every legal process.
Fast running out of cards to play, Zuma now faces the ignominy of being treated like the common criminal more and more South Africans already believe he is.
But it’s not too late. There are still a couple of weeks left. He and his legal team still have an option – the only one available in real terms – to meet with the authorities and avoid unnecessary humiliation.
The longer he continues to posture, the less inclination there will be for anyone to try and minimise the damage to his name, that of his political movement.
He will only have himself to blame.