Durban - DEPUTY Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the chairperson of the state capture commission, came under attack for seeking a term of imprisonment for former president Jacob Zuma after he snubbed a Constitutional Court order compelling him to appear before the commission.
Zuma was supposed to appear before the commission this week, but yesterday his lawyers submitted a letter giving reasons why their client would not be part of the proceedings.
The letter stated that the review application that Zuma had instituted to set aside the refusal by Zondo to recuse himself from hearing matters concerning him and his family had yet to be determined by the court. The letter also stated that the summons issued to Zuma to appear before the commission from February 15 to 19 was irregular and not in line with the fourth order of the Constitutional Court judgment of January 28.
MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus said Justice Zondo was taking a “very ill-conceived” approach to the matter.
“This shows the bias by the deputy chief justice against Mr Zuma. There’s this insistence and concerted effort to see Mr Zuma in jail. This will cause instability in the country. The matter at hand needs cooler heads. It would seem that the judge has beef with Mr Zuma, hence it has been our view that he is not the right person to be chairing the commission,” said Niehaus.
He said their support for Zuma was unwavering.
During the proceedings yesterday, evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius said Zuma believed his expected appearance was irregular.
This, in his view, was because he had applied to the North Gauteng High Court to get Justice Zondo to recuse himself, an application that is still pending.
The recusal application was brought before the commission in November 2020.
Justice Zondo dismissed it and Zuma’s lawyers said they would appeal the decision.
Justice Zondo then approached the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to appear before the commission in January and February.
Although the ruling reportedly came after the January dates, on January 27, it compelled Zuma to honour future summons and answer questions put to him in proceedings.
Justice Zondo said: “There should be no two legal systems in regard to these matters (of the commission). There should be no rules for some, and other rules for others.
“This is very serious because if it is allowed to prevail, there will be lawlessness and chaos in the courts because there may be other people who may decide to follow his (Zuma’s) example when they are served with summonses and other court processes and decide to ignore them. If Mr Zuma and his lawyers were of the view that his summons was irregular, it obliged him, if he wanted not to be obliged to appear, to approach a court and ask that it be set aside on that basis,” said Justice Zondo.
He said the commission would make an application to the Constitutional Court and seek an order that Zuma was guilty of contempt of court.
He said if the Constitutional Court delivered a guilty verdict, the commission would ask the court to impose a term of imprisonment.
Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the Constitutional Court was “mischievous” in its ruling that compelled Zuma to appear before the commission.
“There’s a legal process which is under way where Msholozi (Zuma) is asking for Zondo to recuse himself, so ruling in this fashion the court pretended that the recusal application did not exist. The judge (Zondo) appears to be petty and his behaviour is that of someone who is eyeing a top position, which is the Chief Justice position in this case. This thing creates a conundrum that will expose that the Concourt didn’t apply its mind when giving the order (for Zuma to appear before the commission),” said Seepe.
Xolani Dube, a senior researcher at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development, said the commission was about “hunting” for the head of one man.
“One would say there’s bad blood between the judge Zondo and JZ (Zuma) because this has become personal. The judge became emotional when presenting his decision, yet the task at hand needs a level-headed person. This is no longer about the law, it borders on politics and Zuma is the target,” said Dube.