“Don’t worry too much about the Constitution,” ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said today when defending former president Jacob Zuma. He called for Zuma to be “left alone” in the wake of his defiant letter stating he would not testify at the Zondo commission into state capture.
The former Free State premier — who returns to court on 19 February on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering related to a R255-million asbestos tender in 2014 — was speaking during an impromptu media briefing at the Soweto home of struggle hero Rebecca Kotane, who died at the age of 109.
Magashule was reacting to calls by the ANC in the Eastern Cape for Zuma to be brought to book for his reaction to the commission’s summonses.
“Leave president Zuma alone. Just leave him. What has Zuma done? President Zuma is president Zuma,” he said. “I can’t talk for president Zuma. He is a South African with his own rights, so you can’t want me to talk for president Zuma.”
Magashule called the Eastern Cape provincial executive “ill-disciplined” and “populists” after the province resolved at its lekgotla this week to recommend that Zuma face disciplinary action or suspension of his ANC membership.
“It’s wrong for comrades to try and become populists and talk about Zuma all the time. They are populists who say Zuma must resign or be removed from the ANC. Zuma is part of the ANC.
“There is no structure of the ANC, be it a province or region, which can call for Zuma to be disciplined. They are out of order, and these are the populists who always try to do this, and the ANC is quiet about these populists who like to appear in the media.”
He added that the party needed to discuss Zuma’s defiance first before expressing its views.
“Why should I call him to order? What has he done?” was Magashule’s response when questioned whether his office would have talks with Zuma.
Magashule added that “wrong things” were happening in the country and promised that in time he would reveal what he meant.
After the Constitutional Court last week ordered the former leader to appear before the Zondo commission, Zuma wrote a letter saying that he would defy the order.
Zuma — who has been in a fierce battle with the commission’s chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — said he was prepared to go to jail rather than testify before the commission.
The commission approached the Constitutional Court after Zuma walked out of proceedings when his application for Zondo to recuse himself was denied in November last year.
Reacting to Zuma’s defiant letter, the commission earlier this week said it would lay criminal charges against him if he failed to appear before it on 15 February.