10 May 2006

Jacob Zuma found not guilty of rape

Jacob Zuma has been found not guilty of rape.
  • Zuma poised for a comeback
  • Outcome a setback for women, say activists
  • Daughter's testimony saves the day
  • President Mbeki, political parties accept verdict
  • Supporters celebrate as Zuma is acquitted
  • 1000 celebrate with him at his Forest Town home
  • Acquittal doesn't mean the battle is over yet
  • Drama of the Zuma camp versus the Mbeki camp has not been fully played out
So read the headlines.

And the editorial and op-ed pages:
  • Judge did a fine job in Zuma trial
  • Not guilty, but not fit to lead
No, he wasn't guilty of rape. But he was guilty of adultery.

I've skipped reading most of the press reporting of the trial, which has often meant starting the newspaper on page 5. The bits I did see didn't seem very edifying. When the accusation first appeared, it seemed like a put-up job, coming soon after the decision to prosecute him as a spin-off of the Shaik trial.

So he wasn't guilty of rape. But neither was Profumo, who died recently. Neither was John Prescott, whose behaviour was similar, and led to similar consequences. Should Prescott and Profumo have been reinstated since they were not found guilty of rape?

Zuma was guilty of adultery, but Jesus said of a woman caught in adultery, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Many still condemn Zuma, even though he was found not guilty of rape. But how many people can truthfully claim to be absolutely blameless of any sexual misconduct?

Judge Willem van der Merwe confined his moralising to a Kiplingesque comment, "If you can control your body and your sexual urges, then you're a man, my son."

But it might be worth going back a bit earlier in Kipling's poem, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."

The fact is that we live in a society in which controlling sexual urges is, with a few exceptions, seen as unfashionable, and many seem to argue that it is cruel even to think such a thing. Among the exceptions are those who say that the outcome is a "setback for women". This seems tantamount to saying that any woman who makes false accusations should be believed.

We live in a society in which sexual morality has become increasingly contradictory, with increasinly harsh penalties demanded for an ever-narrowing range of offences. If you can control your sexual urges when all about you are losing all control, and urge that you do too... you'll be a freak.

And Jacob Zuma headed up the Moral Regeneration Movement. So what is moral regeneration? Committing adultery and saying that that's cool, as long as it's consensual and you have a shower afterwards to prevent Aids?

We may not all be able to control our sexual urges all the time. But the biggest failure is not having a sense of failure when we do fail to control them. Moral regeneration surely starts with repentance -- confessing our failure and recognising that it is a failure.

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