All eyes on ANC as Zuma-Zondo saga comes to a head
Johannesburg - All eyes are on the ANC top brass as the party is expected to outline its stance on the refusal of former president Jacob Zuma to appear before the Zondo commission.
Zuma was issued a summons to appear before the inquiry on Monday. He has been implicated by several witnesses in allegations of state capture and corruption relating to his years as the head of state.
The commission issued an advisory on Sunday in which it stated that it had set aside the whole of this coming week to hear Zuma’s evidence.
The ANC national executive committee (NEC) that met at the weekend discussed Zuma’s stated plan to defy the commission as well as the ANC’s “step aside” resolution which recommends that party leaders who are criminally charged must step aside from their positions.
Zuma has been summonsed to appear before the commission today (Monday), and the Constitutional Court has ruled that he has an obligation to comply with the summons and to answer questions put to him at the commission.
The ANC has been unable to adopt a clear stance on the Zuma and Zondo saga to date as warring factions within the party do not see eye to eye, with some openly displaying support for the former president, who indicated that he was prepared to be thrown in jail rather than appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has indicated that it would camp around Zuma’s Nkandla homestead to protect him from possible arrest over his defiance of the apex court’s order and the commission’s summons.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a strong Zuma ally, is also expected to appear in the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday to face charges in relation to the asbestos tender corruption saga.
Magashule is among the ANC heavyweights who have been called upon to step aside by the party’s integrity commission on account of their alleged involvement in wrongdoing, but he has so far refused to leave his post.
Several ANC NEC members have expressed support for Magashule, and the party is set to announce its finalised stance on how its contentious “step aside” resolution will be carried out against those facing prosecution.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the ANC faced the choice of either protecting its integrity or becoming a platform through which constitutional delinquency was allowed to thrive.
“There is no middle ground. This is not an issue that can be deferred for further consultation. They need to take a firm position on this,” Mathekga said.
Meanwhile, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte was forced to apologise to Justice Zondo following the publication of an article which characterised the commission and some of the testimony presented before it as “an onslaught against the people” of South Africa.