Jacob Zuma Foundation denounces constitutional court ruling sending former president to jail

The Jacob Zuma Foundation has “denounced” the constitutional court judgment this week, which sentences the former president to 15 months for contempt for failing to respect an earlier order compelling him to return to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi said in a statement that it and Zuma were still studying the judgment, handed down by the apex court on Tuesday. The court gave Zuma five days to hand himself over to the police, failing which he will be arrested within three days.

Manyi said that although the commission had a “very important and invaluable task” in accordance with the constitution, the same constitution protected Zuma’s rights as a citizen.

Zuma “has never believed that he is above the law or the constitution” but had concerns about the “biased manner” in which the commission “has been turned into a slaughterhouse”.

Manyi said Zuma had followed appropriate legal channels and lodged an application for a review at the high court, but that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had “ignored” this and approached the constitutional court for the contempt order.

“In our view, that cannot be consistent with the substantive upholding of the rule of law that some only pay lip service to. Justice must be seen to be done.” 

Manyi said Zuma had a “legitimate disagreement” with Zondo and that his refusal to comply with the order could not be characterised as wilful or in bad faith because he was “seeking to uphold the law”.

Zondo had laid criminal charges against Zuma, but had then gone on to preside over hearings involving him and his application for recusal.

“The common law maxim that a man may not be a judge in his own case unequivocally negates the power of Deputy Chief Justice Zondo to hear and decide a case in which he is an interested party,” Manyi said.

He went further to say the court had violated the principle of equality before the law, and that the judges had acted emotionally.

“The characterisation of our patron by the majority panel paints a picture of a very angry panel of judges. We concur with the view of other justices who said the constitutional court majority acted contrary to the rule of law,” Manyi said.

As a result, the foundation “denounces” the judgement as “judicially emotional and angry and not consistent with our constitution”.

It is not clear at this stage whether Zuma will abide by the order and hand himself over to police or force them to arrest him.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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