Jacob Zuma is no stranger to controversy, especially when looking back on his illustrious career as our country’s President. But his recent antics and attitude at the Zondo Commission could see him in cuffs.
After an event which can only be described as shocking, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo being placed in an awkward and rather strange position by Zuma was left with no choice but to request that the secretary of the state capture inquiry, lay a criminal complaint against South Africa’s former President.
This follows Zuma and his legal team breaking the law, leaving a commission focussed on the sensitive and highly controversial state capture. It would appear that the former statesman and his legal team staged said walkout, when Zondo dismissed Zuma’s application for recusal, on the grounds that the former President failed to meet the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias.
By walking out of the state capture commission inquiry without permission, the deputy Chief Justice claims Zuma was guilty of contempt. In fact, he stipulates that anyone failing to appear when summoned to give evidence at a commission, will be guilty of an offence.
While Zuma might feel he holds a degree of power, Zondo emphasises all people are equal before the law. Therefore, Zuma had no right to excuse himself.
These are sentiments the Democratic Alliance shares, with DA MPL and a member of the KZN Legislature, Imran Keeka stating, “No citizen is above the law even, if that person is the current President. Former president Zuma has always been on record, asking for his day in court and when he is given the opportunity to set the record straight, the recent escapade proves how he wants to evade accountability at all cost.” Keeka adds these desperate attempts to undermine and derail the work of the Zondo Commission are only there to delay the course of the law. “If Zuma had his way, the entire Commission of inquiry could collapse. He used these same tactics to delay his fraud and corruption charges.”
With Zondo showing a resolute determination towards the matter, Keeka emphasises that South Africa owes Judge Zondo and the Commission a massive debt of gratitude for the excellent job they are doing to protect the independence, integrity and work of this Commission, despite constant challenges. He states the DA is in full support of the work done by the Zondo Commission in uncovering the extent of the rot in State institutions. All of which has, he feels, destroyed our economy and opportunities, as well as services to our people.
Adding to the drama surrounding the case, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of SA (Nadel) were left perplexed by a statement from the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which claimed the former president “would rather face jail” than appear before the state capture inquiry.
The foundation said it commended Zuma for risking it all, in order not to legitimise an irregular process disguised as a legitimate commission.
Now, this is where things get interesting and why Nadel was “confused”, as Zuma himself actually set up the Commission. Moreover, when he established it, Nadel says Zuma was unequivocal in expressing his confidence in all judges in the country—a bit of contradiction to his latest outlooks. The Zondo Commission will continue on their path, and a new date will be established—however, taking it a step further, to ensure Zuma attends, Zondo will apply to the Constitutional Court to compel the former President to appear and not leave until the chairperson excuses him.
With this in mind, Keeka says, “Time has run out for Zuma. There is no longer anywhere for him to hide. The law will take its course.”
Adding his insights into the matter, Neven Singh of Neven Singh & Associates elaborates on what would happen if an average Joe receives a subpoena to appear before a commission such as Zuma did. He states, “If the individual walks out of the enquiry or fails to appear, a warrant of arrest can be issued.”
This, Singh stresses can see a person taken into custody and forced to appear in court. In fact, the individual can also face a hefty fine and prison time—all of which now hovers over the former President’s head.
As Zuma faces the long arm of the law, Singh points out, that in no time during the Commission, does Zuma have to answer any of the questions. But, he stresses, remaining silent will have an adverse effect on the case and paint him in a negative light.
It is clear the Zondo commission is unrelenting, and Zuma has run out of options apart from showing up and presenting his case. As we wait to see if the theatrics are over, what are your thoughts on the situation, do you feel Zuma will face the full extent of the law?
Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer
Photo credit: https://www.cogta.gov.za/