May 10, 2006

How Duduzile Saved Papa Zuma

Posted in AIDS, South Africa at 8:27 pm by greatparanoiac

zuma.jpgI wanted to follow-up on yesterday’s post on the acquittal of Jacob Zuma. First–check out the NYT’s scathing editorial on why letting him back into political life would be a disservice to the country.

Women’s groups have condemned the verdict and AIDS activists have also spoken against Zuma for hurting the cause. Today’s Independent Online  picked up a story from AFP reporting that a senior UN envoy criticized the former South African deputy president for his “unacceptable male behavior” and “appalling uninformed testimony” during his trial.

“Zuma has done irreparable damage to efforts to curb the spread of the deadly disease with actions that came to light in his recent rape trial,” said Stephen Lewis, UN chief Kofi Annan’s special envoy for Aids in Africa. “I feel embarrassed for the African leadership and if you will forgive me that has been the situation in South Africa where the voice of political leadership has been both confused and confusing.”

The confusion Lewis is referring to is what AIDS activists have long complained about—lack of commitment from their government officials. President Thabo Mbeki once remarked that AIDS is a disease caused by poverty and Health Minister Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has advocated a diet of garlic, beetroot and olive oil as an antidote in lieu of anti retrolviral drugs.

I did a Google news & blog search looking for different media reports on Zuma—and haven’t been able to find a match to a second story on the Independent Online. Allegedly, the testimony of Zuma’s 23-year-old daughter, Duduzile, helped her father get acquitted. The news story reports that the judge unwaveringly believed Duduzile’s account and afterward praised the young woman for her testimony. 

“Supporting her father’s evidence that the complainant had sent him certain “sexual signals” on the night of the alleged rape, Duduzile testified that she thought the complainant was “dressed inappropriately” in a kanga and was wearing no underwear when she took her to her father’s study. It was evidence that would prove crucial to the case. In a knock to the complainant’s claims of friendship with Duduzile, the judge also remarked: “(The complainant) tried to make out she was a friend of Duduzile, but when Duduzile saw her, she was irritated as she saw the complainant as the child of a comrade who wanted money.”

With no legal point of reference except years of watching ‘Law & Order’ reruns this makes me most suspicious. How isn’t her testimony prejudicial? Why is his daughter a credible witness? Wouldn’t any conversation Duduzile had with the rape survivor be hearsay? If anyone has a full story on the daughter’s testimony, I’d like to hear about it.

I’ll close on this note Michelle Anderson, a former Visiting Scholar at the University of Cape Town, said on Concurring Opinions. Now that Prof. Anderson is the new dean at CUNY Law, this may be the last of her blog posts. Our loss.

“The destructive messages that Zuma himself has sent about women, HIV, Zulu culture, and sexuality are so wrong, particularly for South Africa, a country with nearly four times the reported rape rate of the United States. Zuma, a widely revered hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, is now a champion of sexism under the banner of culture.”

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