Former President Jacob Zuma’s decision to defy the order of the country’s highest court and the summons to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture is completely unacceptable in a constitutional democracy, the commission said on Tuesday night.
The commission condemned Zuma for thinking he is above the law and South African constitution in a strongly-worded statement issued by the secretary of the commission Itumeleng Mosala “at the instance of the chairperson” Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The commission said that it “has taken note of the recent public statement issued by Mr Jacob Zuma” on February 1, wherein Zuma “made it clear that he had decided that he would not obey the summons issued by the commission requiring him to appear before it from February 15-19, 2021”.
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Furthermore, the commission noted Zuma’s comments that he would defy the order of the Constitutional Court compelling him to appear before the commission, answer questions and to obey all directives and summonses issued by the commission.
“The constitution expressly provides that an order or decision issued by a court binds all persons to whom it applies. Therefore, Mr Zuma is, in terms of the constitution, expressly bound by the order of the Constitutional Court,” it pointed out.
According to the commission, Zuma’s decision to defy the ConCourt order and summons of the commission is particularly unacceptable as “the person making such a decision is a former President of the country who should be exemplary in upholding the rule of law and the constitution”.
“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 noted.
“The commission is concerned that Mr Zuma’s decision to defy the order of the Constitutional Court and the summons of the commission displays a complete disregard for the rights and interests that South Africans have in obtaining comprehensive responses from him to a lot of evidence regarding state capture, corruption and fraud that concern him and others connected with him that relate to his terms of office as President of the country which have been led in the commission over the past three years,” it added.
“While Mr Zuma refuses to comply with the constitution and to obey the order of the Constitutional Court on the one hand, he continues to enjoy the benefits that the constitution grants to all former President s in terms of his pension and other benefits paid for by the taxpayers,” the commission noted.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo has asked the commission’s secretary to lay a criminal complaint against Zuma.
This is in relation to Zuma’s decision not to appear before the commission in late January “as he had been required to do in terms of one of the commission’s summonses” served on the former President .
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“In terms of one of the summonses issued by the commission, Mr Zuma is required to appear before the commission from February 15-19, 2021. As already indicated the order of the Constitutional Court compels Mr Zuma to comply with that summons by appearing before the commission and answering questions that may be put to him.”
“Should Mr Zuma carry out his decision not to appear before the commission on February 15, 2021 and, therefore, act in breach of the summons and in contempt of the order of the Constitutional Court, the commission will announce on that day what further action it will take in regard to such conduct,” it added.
The Commission also noted Zuma “continues his attacks on the person and integrity” of the commission’s chairperson. However, it said that Deputy Chief Justice Zondo would deal with those attacks in a separate statement.