President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to run down the clock on Jacob Zuma’s sentence was legal. When it is challenged in the courts, pundits tell us, it might also be proved rational. But you don’t have to be a lawyer to know that it was also politically necessary, and therefore inevitable.

I understand the anger of those South Africans who believe Ramaphosa has staged a sort of bureaucratic jailbreak, drilling through the wall of Cell Block D and allowing 9,486 other convicts to skedaddle into the night just so that Zuma can hightail it home to Nkandla. ..

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