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Judges on CR17 payroll: Jacob Zuma

MEMBERS of the MKMVA outside the main entrance of former president Jacob Zuma's house in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA)

MEMBERS of the MKMVA outside the main entrance of former president Jacob Zuma's house in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 17, 2021


Durban - THE plot around former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to not appear at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture is thickening after he made damning allegations that there were judges in South Africa on the payroll of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Earlier this week, Zuma refused to obey a Constitutional Court order which compelled him to appear before the commission this week, from Monday to Friday. In a letter from his attorneys on Monday, he said these judges were paid by Ramaphosa to discredit and tarnish his name.

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“We sit with some judges who have assisted the incumbent president to hide from society what on the face of it seem to be bribes obtained in order to win an internal ANC election. We sit with some judges who sealed those records simply because such records may reveal that some of them, while presiding in our courts, have had their hands filled with the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. I take this stance (not to participate in the commission) because I believe that judges should never become agents of ruling classes in society,” Zuma said in the statement.

He said he was grateful to “many comrades” who have sought to hear his side of the story and have understood his frustration.

“I am grateful for their support and their courage to stand with me rather than to appease, at my expense, those who seek to control our economy, judiciary and our country,” he said.

Zuma’s son, Edward, said they were unmoved by the commission’s decision to seek a term of imprisonment for Zuma if he is found to have been in contempt of court.

Edward Zuma said the fight against his father had been waged for 18 years, and that it had been fought using different forces in the country and abroad. He said the commission had all the time and resources to take the matter to all the existing courts, but that would not make them change their decision.

“Some judges have been bought to tarnish my father’s name and, if I’m wrong about that, why then can’t the CR17 campaign documents and its bank statements be made public? There’s some reluctance to do so because those involved know they will be giving away the names of all the judges who are on their payroll to discredit the former president. This campaign against my father involves even foreign agencies. We are not prepared to be convinced by any structure or individual to change our view, and stand on this matter because already the ConCourt is clearly biased against the former president,” he said.

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When the Daily News visited Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, a number of vehicles with people who came to offer their support to Zuma were driving in and out of the property. Among those were senior members of the NFP, led by the party’s secretary-general, Canaan Mdletshe.

Mdletshe and his team held a meeting with Zuma, but would not divulge its contents. But he said the meeting was progressive as Zuma had taken them into his confidence about his decision on the Zondo Commission.

“He took us into confidence and we realised that this was no longer about him (Zuma), but about the South African community at large, and we are happy that he has taken the decision he took. Unfortunately, we can’t divulge the contents of the meeting, but our view about his stance has completely changed. He will never walk alone. If the public is confused about his decision, we will be part of those who will be out there explaining to the public,” Mdletshe said.

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Political analysts and commentators expressed their views on the letter Zuma penned.

University of Zululand Professor Sipho Seepe said: “It is a no-holds-barred response. He takes no prisoners and leaves no prisoners.”

Seepe said the courts had defended President Cyril Ramaphosa against information being released about how his campaign for the ANC presidency was funded. Seepe added that Zuma was pointing out the inconsistencies in how he was being treated.

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He also went on to mention how the Constitutional Court threw the rule book out when it came to dealing with the former president. Seepe pointed out that the constitution of the country was supreme, but the Constitutional Court was not, as judges were human and fallible.

He said when the commission approached the Constitutional Court to have Zuma jailed, this was when Zuma would get an opportunity to present his case through his right to respond. Seepe said Zuma would explain that he did not intentionally set out to defy the Constitutional Court.

Professor Boitumelo Senokoane said in the letter one could see that some of the examples were coming from his own experience as a former president who also appointed members of the judiciary. He said the public disclosure claim that some judges were on the payroll raised the suspicions of the public.

Senokoane said Zuma believed that no matter what he did he was not going to have a fair trial, and was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, in his State of the Nation Address response, said they could not ignore allegations that seemed to be true that prominent members of the judiciary were on the payroll of white capitalists.

Malema said they could not ignore that some members of the judiciary had allegedly received bribes through the State Security Agency’s Project Justice, and also from the alleged bribes from the Cyril Ramaphosa campaign.

“Mr President, we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand regarding the growing and now believable allegation that some prominent members… of the judiciary are in the payroll of white capitalists establishment. We cannot ignore the allegations that some of the judges have received bribes through SSA’s project justice as well as from CR17 donations which by all standards and measures amounted to massive corruption, money laundering and racketeering. The judiciary must know that they are not above the constitution. They are judges, not Gods,” Malema.

The spokesperson of the Office of the Chief Justice, Nathi Mncube, had not responded when asked to do so. This was after confirming he had received the questions from Independent Media.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale referred all queries to the ANC.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe had also not responded to queries.

Daily News