There is a widely held view that the obligation of President Jacob Zuma to account for his past criminal misdeeds is restricted to the 783 charges arising from his relationship with Schabir Shaik. No or little account is taken of the misdeeds committed while in office as president. The source of this misconception is an apparent belief that the president, as head of state, is protected against liability for such conduct by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The doctrine of sovereign immunity (for it is a doctrine and not a rule of law) has a long, bleak provenance. The original state makers were also the most successful and barbaric international bandits. In his book, Roads from Past to Future, Charles Tilly, the Joseph L Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, said this about the early history of state making: "In times of war, indeed, the managers of full-fledged states often commissioned privateers, hired sometime bandits to raid their enemies and encour...

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