WATCH: Don't make storm out of impasse between Jacob Zuma and judges, says Cyril Ramaphosa
Vryheid - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the legal wrestling match between former president Jacob Zuma and the judiciary “will work itself out.”
Ramaphosa was responding to questions from Independent Media shortly after addressing a Raymond Mhlaba memorial lecture which was held in Vryheid in northern KZN on Sunday.
He had been asked whether he was worried that the exchange of harsh words between the country’s judiciary and supporters (and sometimes Zuma lawyers) of Zuma would harm South Africa’s reputation as a country where the rule of law is supreme.
In response, Ramaphosa said citizens must not create a storm in a teacup.
“I mean, that will not damage the image of South Africa, that is an issue that is resolvable, it’s going to be resolved and I really don’t think we should create a storm out of this cup. That process will be resolved, it will work itself out, so it will not damage our image,” said Ramaphosa.
The showdown started on February 4 when Pietermaritzburg high court judge, Dhaya Pillay, issued a conditional warrant of arrest for Zuma for not showing up in court, citing illness. The warrant angered Zuma’s lawyers who claimed he was being “persecuted”. It also angered his supporters who claimed that Pillay was bending to political forces opposed to Zuma.
The attacks recently prompted acting KZN Judge President Isaac Madondo to issue a statement in defence of Pillay, saying that falls entirely within the discretion of a Judge in a particular matter, depending on the circumstances and facts of such a matter, to issue the warrant of arrest outrightly or to stay it for a certain period.
Zuma’s supporters upped the ante in the fight on Saturday while welcoming home the ex-president from Cuba where he was receiving medical treatment. They claimed that Zuma was a victim of a judiciary that was out to humiliate him. Zuma himself reported said he would not lie about being sick in order to avoid appearing in court.
Meanwhile, ANC KZN chair and premier, Sihle Zikalala, speaking on the sidelines of the same memorial lecture, said they will be in court on May 6 (when Zuma appears again) to support Zuma but that does not mean they are against the party or government.
“The former president is going through the case, we support him, we will be there (in court) to support him. And (by) supporting him, it does not mean that we are against the ANC or the government,” Zikalala said briefly.