Aide: Zuma Is Well, Bouncing Like Tennis Ball Despite Prison Sentence
South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was in “high spirits” on Wednesday, a day after the country’s top court handed him a 15-month jail sentence, an aide said.
In an unprecedented ruling, the Constitutional Court on Tuesday convicted Zuma for “egregious” and “aggravated” contempt of court after he refused to appear before graft investigators.
If Zuma fails to turn himself in by Sunday, police will be ordered to arrest him and take him to prison.
But his close associates said Zuma’s morale was good and his famously jovial energy was undimmed.
“He is in high spirits, bouncing like a tennis ball,” his spokesman Mzwanele Manyi told AFP. “If it was me, I would have lost appetite, he has not lost appetite.”
“I think the reason he is like that is that his soul is intact, his conscience is intact,” he added.
His lawyers are still formulating a response to the ruling.
Zuma, 79, is accused of enabling the plunder of state coffers during his nine years in office, which ended in February 2018 when he was forced out by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Before he left office, he responded to mounting pressure by setting an investigative commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
He was ordered on Tuesday to be jailed after years of failure to testify to the panel.
Zondo on Wednesday welcomed the verdict, telling a news conference that this is “a very important judgement for our country”.
But, he added, “one wishes that it had never become necessary to reach this point.”
Zuma is separately facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand, then the equivalent of nearly $5 billion.