Johannesburg/Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to openly defy the Constitutional Court judgment against him has split the ANC once more, with the party’s secretary general Ace Magashule saying Zuma has done nothing wrong, while the DA called for his arrest and the EFF scheduled a tea date in Nkandla.
This as the Zondo Commission of Inquiry has taken a public stance to lay criminal charges against Zuma if he fails to appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for his next appearance, which is scheduled between February 15-19.
Opposition parties such as the DA in the meantime have called on the police to be prepared to arrest Zuma should he fail to attend the commission.
“Urgent steps also need to be taken by law enforcement agencies now to ensure this complaint is registered and, moreover, that Zuma is compelled to testify during his scheduled appearance for the week of 15 – 19 February. If Zuma is allowed to continue this contemptuous behaviour, it will entrench a perception that he is above the law,” said Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA spokesperson on justice.
“The SAPS in particular needs to be prepared to arrest Zuma should he fail to show up. If he carries through with his planned defiance, Zuma must be arrested and face the full consequences of his appalling behaviour, just like any other citizen would have to do,” said Breytenbach.
The EFF, through its leader Julius Malema, publicly sent a tea request with the former president which is expected to take place this weekend in Nkandla. Zuma has acceded to the request.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said it wanted to see Zuma in overalls sooner, rather than later.
Meanwhile, Magashule, who spoke to journalists while visiting the home of late Struggle icon Rebecca Kotane in Soweto on Wednesday, said those who were calling for Zuma’s ANC membership to be suspended were populists.
This comes days after reports that the ANC in the Eastern Cape, which is led by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s backer, premier Oscar Mabuyane, called for the party to suspend Zuma’s membership after the former president said he intended to defy the Constitutional Court by no longer availing himself at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
But Magashule said he didn't see anything wrong that Zuma had done.
’’What has Zuma done now? Why should we suspend a person who believes in what he believes?
“President Zuma has the right to do whatever he wants to do. So don’t make me talk on behalf of president Zuma. We have not discussed this matter. I don’t see what is the issue,” he said.
Pressed further, Magashule said: “I will express my views at the right time. President Zuma is president Zuma. I am Ace Magashule. I respect comrade Zuma. We will one day talk about what is happening (in) South Africa.
“There are many wrong things which are happening in this country. We can go to the days of Truth and Reconciliation Commission where (apartheid president) PW Botha refused to go to the TRC and nobody said anything.
“You, the media, did not say anything until today. There are TRC prosecutions that were supposed to have happened, they are not happening. You are quiet about that.
“I am not saying I am okay with defying (the Constitution), but president Zuma is president Zuma. He has his own views and he has his own rights. Why should I call him to order. What has he done? I don’t see anything wrong that he has done,” Magashule said.
In August 1998, PW Botha was in fact found guilty of flouting a TRC subpoena and handed a sentence of a R10 000 fine or 12 months jail time, SAPA reported at the time.
Magashule’s comments came as pressure was mounting on Zuma after the Zondo Commission fired back, issuing a statement reminding him that he had an obligation to come forward and give his side of the story.
This was in response to Zuma’s statement that he was prepared to go to jail as he did no longer intends to partake in the commission any longer.
The commission stopped short of telling Zuma that he should be stripped of the perks he continues to enjoy as a former president.
“It seems that Mr Zuma considers himself to be above the law and the Constitution. The commission reiterates that in terms of the Constitution everyone is equal before the law. This constitutional guarantee must be given effect to,” the commission said.
In its counter punch, the commission said it would lodge a criminal complaint against the former president for defying a summon for him to appear before last month.
It further reminded him that it has a date with him between February 15 and 19 and should he carry out his threat not to appear, it will take further action.
“The commission will announce on that day what further action it will take in regard to such conduct,” it said.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s family, his supporters including the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association, RET Forces and Ubumbano Lokuthula, backed his defiant stance.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said: “We call on the ANC to take a decisive stance on its senior member’s deplorable conduct.”
Political Bureau and IOL