South African politicians at loggerheads over Zuma’s parole

The government and politicians in South Africa are at loggerheads over the weekend’s medical parole granted to former South African President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma was sentenced by the Constitutional Court to 15 months in prison for contempt of justice and was held last July in East Court prison in KwaZulu-Natal province.

While the Department of Corrections justified the release of the former President on medical grounds, several political parties and personalities protested against this decision which they described as “political”.

Foreseeing this outcry of criticism from certain opposition groups, the prison authorities, first of all, stressed that “in addition to being physically disabled, inmates suffering from an illness which considerably limits their activities daily life or their personal care may be granted medical parole”.

Welcoming the move, Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi told media that the decision to grant the ex-president on medical parole is an indication that the system is “steeped in humanity”.

Except that the presidents of the opposition parties are not of this opinion. They believe Justice and Corrections Minister Ronald Lamola and the Department of Corrections must account to the nation for the motives behind this “absurd decision” to release Zuma.

“It is deplorable and unacceptable that the Correctional Services are making fun of our parole system,” they note, arguing that it is very clear that the former President, who has defied the justice of the country, has benefited from ‘preferential treatment since his incarceration last July.

For the President of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), John Steenhuisen, “this decision is surely political and not medical”.

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