Even In Death “Khwezi” Remains A Political Football

By Pinky Khoabane

NEWS that former President Jacob Zuma would be approaching the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to establish if his rape accuser Fezekile Kuzwayo, received money in exchange for opening a case against him, puts her right back into the political arena that she found herself engulfed in following her accusation. And frankly it will be a sad day for this young woman to have her name once again dragged across newspaper headlines; but one group or another have used her as a political football to advance one agenda or another over the years.

This latest court challenge by Zuma seeks to expose the independence and integrity or lack thereof of the NPA. He wants to prove that the NPA’s charges against him were politically motivated by those who wanted to thwart his political career.

In a series of radio interviews in the lead-up to the ANC’s national conference at the end of last year, the party’s presidential hopefuls were asked if they believed she was raped. A court of law had made a ruling, that she wasn’t. And yet some of the ANC leaders interviewed, despite having never challenged or spoken-out in Kuzwayo’s support, said they had believed she was raped.

Of course it was unnecessary to bring her name back into the sphere of politics that she had tried to escape when she left the country following Zuma’s acquittal but it served a political purpose. Kuzwayo went into exile again following the case for fear of her life it was claimed, but returned to start a life before her death in 2016. She had been in exile with her parents before and this is where the former president met her at the age of 5 years old, according to court records.

This rape trial had aroused strong emotions from Zuma supporters and detractors. It exposed the tensions between various societal issues; HIV/Aids, morality, culture, tradition, and religion. She was 31 and he, 64. It pitted modernity against tradition. The Aids epidemic had already brought into the open a very taboo topic of sex and the fact that she was HIV positive and that they didnt use a condom thrust this issue into the spotlight.

The trial split the ANC and its allies in half with one group declaring the case a political conspiracy and another, with the name of Ronnie Kasrils, then minister of intelligence featuring prominently as the person behind the charges. The rift between Kasrils and Zuma had become well known. It was Kasrils that Kuzwayo phoned the morning after to inform him, as the former intelligence minister puts it in his book A Simple Man – Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma: “Uncle Ronnie, Jacob Zuma has raped me”.

There would be much activity in the aftermath of that day when she said she was raped and he said it was consensual sex.

The notorious journalist Ranjeni Munusumany, today’s arch critic of the former president, was among those who intervened in meetings with Kuzwayo to try and get her to drop the charges. The irony of it all is seeing her portrayal of Khuzwayo today whom she’s adamant was raped. Munusamy is also the journalist who when her own editor refused to run her story about then public prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka being an apartheid spy (and after the Hefer Commission it became clear he had very good reason), she gave it to an opposition paper.

Even before the trial started, it was all about pro-or-anti-Zuma or pro-or-anti-Mbeki.

The aunts who spoke to Kuzwayo when she first told them about the “rape” are described in her testimony as “anti-Mbeki”.

The crowds outside the court were largely Zuma supporters and it is said they intimidated those who were pro-Khwezi.

It was a terrible moment for our country. It is an event which according to Kuzwayo’s testimony, changed her life upside-down.

In African culture, where the dead are held with utmost respect, the former president ought to focus on other areas with which to prove external interference in charges against him. This woman should be left to rest. She has gone through too much.


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