African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s ”successful subverting of justice” this week and the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) ”spineless decision” have now encouraged him to bully the judiciary, the Congress of the People (Cope) said on Thursday.
Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said Zuma’s ”chilling” views on the Constitutional Court judges would pave the way to a dictatorship.
The Star reported on Thursday that Zuma ”blasted” the conduct of the judiciary and questioned the supremacy of the Constitutional Court as the highest court in the country, saying it is ”not God”.
He also accused Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke of declaring war on the ANC and criticised other judges who ruled against him in his corruption court appearances.
Cope said this did not bode well for a democracy and was another fundamental threat to our legal institutions.
”Cope condemns this statement in the strongest possible terms. People of South Africa fight for your democracy and stand against the undermining of the rule of law.”
Cope said Zuma’s case was one where the victims of his alleged criminal behaviour, the taxpayers, had been let down by the NPA and where the perpetrator of the alleged corruption had his rights take precedence over the victims.
”This gives lie to the many speeches Zuma has made stating that the ANC is tough on crime and is there to protect the victims,” said Dexter.
Cope said these statements showed Zuma’s fundamental lack of understanding of the Constitution and how the legal system worked.
”If a lower court makes mistakes then people can appeal to a higher court so the legal system can self-correct. This is how ordinary people, for example, those not having their case funded by the taxpayer like Zuma, seek relief from crime,” said Dexter.
”The Constitutional Court is the final arbiter in this process. If our final court is undermined by a potential head of state then where can ordinary people seek relief?”
Cope said Zuma’s comment confirmed their committed approach to protect the democratic Constitution against an ANC onslaught to destroy it for the sake of the ambitions of a few.
”We are fighting for the very soul of our country and the very heart of our Constitution,” said Cope.
”If the ANC seeks now to attack judges who have contrary views to the ruling party and deploys ANC cadres to the Constitutional Court our legal system will be fatally undermined.”
The NPA announced on Monday that Zuma’s fraud and corruption prosecution would be halted.
The Durban High Court withdrew all charges against him on Tuesday, paving the way for him to become South Africa’s next president with the cloud of prosecution hanging over his head. — Sapa