State capture commission to lay criminal charge against Jacob Zuma

Commission takes sideswipe at Zuma for refusing to comply with the Constitution but continuing to 'enjoy' the benefits it grants to former presidents

Former president Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Former president Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: VELI NHLAPO

The state capture commission will open a criminal case against former president Jacob Zuma for failing to appear before it last month - and will consider further action should he fail to appear again in two weeks' time.

In a statement on Tuesday night, commission secretary Prof Itumeleng Mosala confirmed that inquiry chairman, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, had instructed him to have the case opened against Zuma.

Mosala also slammed the former president for refusing to follow a Constitutional Court order for him to appear before and - and answer questions at - the commission.

Zuma said on Monday that he would not obey that order and that he he did not fear going to prison should his decision to not co-operate be considered a violation of the law.

“If this stance is considered to be a violation of their law, then let their law take its course. I do not fear being arrested. I do not fear being convicted nor do I fear being incarcerated," he said.

Mosala said this stance was "completely unacceptable", and showed that Zuma "considers himself to be above the law and the Constitution".

"With regard to Mr Zuma’s decision not to appear before the Commission during the week of January 18 to 22, 2021, as he had been required to do in terms of one of the commission’s summonses served on him, the chairperson [Zondo] has asked the secretary of the commission to lay a criminal complaint against Mr Zuma.

"In terms of one of the summonses issued by the commission, Mr Zuma is required to appear before the commission from February 15 to 19, 2021. The order of the Constitutional Court compels Mr Zuma to comply with that summons...

"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," Mosala said.

He added that Zuma's statement "made it clear" that he would not obey its summons to appear later this month, and thereby defy the Constitutional Court.

"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.

"Mr Zuma’s decision that he will defy the order of the country’s highest court and the summons of the commission is completely unacceptable in a constitutional democracy such as ours. This is particularly so when 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," Mosala said.

In what appeared to be a sideswipe aimed at Zuma, the commission secretary said: "It is to be noted that, 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 presidents in terms of his pension and other benefits paid for by the taxpayers."

Mosala continued: "It seems that Mr Zuma considers himself to be above the law and the Constitution. 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."

The statement added that Zuma's "attacks on the person and integrity of the chairperson" would be dealt with in a separate statement.

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