Zuma urged to strike balance between moral conscience and rule of law
DURBAN – AS THE legal tug-of-war intensifies between former president Jacob Zuma and the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, a constitutional law expert says Zuma should strike a balance between his moral conscience and respect for the rule of law.
Professor George Devenish, who was among a team that penned the country's 1996 Constitution, was commenting after Zuma's lawyers decided he was not going to appear before the commission this week.
Zuma's lawyer Eric Mabuza wrote to the commission, saying Zuma would not be taking the stand pending the Constitutional Court ruling on the matter.
In what political analysts described as an unconventional move, Itumeleng Mosala, the commission's secretary, wrote to Zuma last week, ostensibly "to remind" him that he was obliged in terms of summons issued by the commission to take the stand even while the Constitutional Court was yet to rule on his appearance.
Mabuza said Zuma had instituted an application to review and set aside the refusal by Deputy Chief Justice Zondo to recuse himself from hearing matters concerning him and his family.
"The review application is yet to be determined by the court. In our respectful view, president Zuma can only be legally obliged to appear after his review application has been determined.
"We remind the commission that it deemed appropriate to approach the Constitutional Court on an extremely urgent basis to compel president Zuma to comply with the very same summons that the commission now wants to enforce and to forego some of his most fundamental rights. The commission must therefore await the outcome of the decision of the Constitutional Court.“
Devenish said it was time for Zuma to respond to the damning allegations that have emanated in the inquiry process.
"He has to respect the law but also balance that with his moral conscience to respond to the issues in the public domain," he said.
Political analyst Khaya Sithole said the letter of reminder was simply a public show, and a gathering of future legal ammunition, that no stone had been left unturned in accommodating Zuma to give evidence on state capture allegations.
The commission's spokesperson, the Rev Mbuyiselo Stimela, did not respond to a request for comment.