The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes the decision of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to take action against former president, Jacob Zuma, for leaving the Commission on 20 November without permission following the dismissal of his application for Justice Zondo to recuse himself.
The state capture inquiry will lay a criminal charge against Mr Zuma with the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Justice Zondo ruled that Mr Zuma’s action was uncalled for and he would be summoned to appear again. He added that “any person summoned to attend and to give evidence before the commission is required to do so” as “we are all equal before the law.”
Justice Zondo concluded, in an hour-long judgement last week that Zuma’s recusal application had no merit and that he “had failed to meet the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias”. He also faulted the manner in which the test had been interpreted by the former president’s lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane SC.
Sikhakhane responded by saying he and Mr Zuma would leave the proceedings; would take the ruling on review and would furthermore lodge a complaint against Zondo with the Judicial Services Commission.
Legally, it is not open to Mr Zuma simply to excuse himself. If his legal team’s challenge does not succeed, a summons will be issued stipulating the dates on which he will be required to appear before the commission to give evidence. If he fails to do so he could be arrested.
In what are now widely referred to as “Stalingrad tactics” it appears that Mr Zuma plans to disrupt the state capture commission’s work by launching an endless series of spurious legal challenges and delays.
However, all of this may be part of a broader – and even more critical – struggle within the ANC leadership between factions, on the one hand, that condemn corruption and on the other, those whose positions might be seriously threatened by the kind of effective anti-corruption action that we hope will ultimately emerge from the Zondo Commission.
In the meantime, it is reassuring that Justice Zondo is evidently intent on enforcing the principles of equality before the law, independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and non-impunity – particularly in the ongoing fight against corruption.
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
24 November 2020
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