Jacob Zuma, Concourt and Zondo - it’s war of attrition
JOHANNESBURG - Jacob Zuma is facing a face-off with the Constitutional Court after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng threw down the rule book at the former president to indicate what sentence should be imposed on him if found guilty of contempt of court.
Zuma has until Wednesday to reply to the directive issues by Mogoeng.
Eric Mabuza, the lawyer for Zuma, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
But Zuma’s supporters say they were not happy with the way the highest court in the land was dealing with the former president.
This follows Mogoeng’s decision on Friday ordering Zuma to pen a 15-page affidavit telling the apex court what the appropriate sanction should be if the Concourt finds him guilty of contempt of the order to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
Zuma’s refusal to appear before the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, in mid February has seen a see-saw battle ensue between the commission, the Concourt and Zuma in which the former president has refused to back down and adhere to the commission and court’s orders.
With the commission having applied to the Concourt to have the court impose a two-year prison sentence upon Zuma, Mogoeng has now laid the gauntlet at Zuma’s feet requesting him to tell the court what sentence it should give him if he is found guilty of contempt.
Zuma’s prominent supporters, the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Forces, said that despite Zuma having subjected himself to every directive of the courts and even appearing before the commission voluntarily, every rule in the book had either been broken or compromised just to deal with the former president.
Nkosentsha Shezi, chairperson of the RET Forces, said Zondo treated Zuma unfairly and differently from other witnesses.
Shezi said their concern was that the request by Mogoeng for Zuma to pen an affidavit did not resolve the “avalanche of infringements of Zuma’s rights” by different organs of state including the judges.
He said the more amicable resolution would be to allow the application for Zondo to recuse himself before compelling Zuma to go to the commission.
“Our comrade, our father, deserves much better treatment than this.
“If he can not be celebrated for his illustrious contribution to the struggle against apartheid and given a dignified rank in our society, the least we can do is to afford him his fundamental human rights like any other citizen of South Africa,” Shezi said.
Staunch Zuma backer Carl Niehaus of the MKMVA said that Mogoeng’s request was akin to putting the cart in front of the horse.
“Is he telling us in an indirect way that the Constitutional Court has made up its mind to find Zuma guilty, have they already made up their mind?
“It doesn’t make sense to ask from someone who has not participated in a process of principle to then come and present an argument to the court on a matter that has not yet been concluded or in which there has not been a pronunciation of guilt or innocence,” Niehaus said.
He said it was further proof that Zuma was being targeted in the same way he was being targeted in the Arms Deal case where there “is clear political meddling” and by the Zondo commission.
Political analyst and broadcaster Eusebius McKaiser said the Concourt’s letter to Zuma was an error.
“What the letter sent to Zuma says to me as an ordinary citizen is that the rule of law is not animated as fully yet as is desirable in a nascent democracy founded on constitutional supremacy.
“Put more simply, it is hard to imagine that you and I would be treated with kid gloves the way Zuma is being humoured.
“That, in turn, means that we have here a classic case of not treating citizens equally before the law,” McKaiser said.
He said the judiciary should be rendering Zuma ordinary rather than treating him as special.