A day after another attack on the judiciary by former president Jacob Zuma, on Tuesday Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema unleashed a threatening diatribe against judges and national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi in the National Assembly.
During the parliamentary debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address, Malema inferred that the president used the judiciary and the National Prosecuting Authority to target his enemies and protect his allies.
“It is evident that the only thing the current NDPP was appointed for was to withdraw criminal charges against the rogue unit led by Jamnandas, which continues to control the government, and to tell lies about president’s opponents and to project him as a demi-god,” he said, referring to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan by his middle name and reprising the discredited narrative of an illicit intelligence unit within the South African Revenue Service.
“We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand against growing and now believable allegations that some prominent members of the judiciary are in the bankroll of the white capitalist establishment,” Malema continued.
He then raised the testimony given to the Zondo commission by State Security Agency (SSA) director general Loyiso Jafta that at least one judge may have been bribed. He did not mention that this was alleged to have happened during Zuma’s presidency.
In the same breath, Malema accused Ramaphosa of corruption.
“We cannot ignore the allegations that some of the judges have received bribes through SSA project justice, as well as CR17 donations, which by all standards and measures amounted to massive corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering,” he said.
Malema went on to accuse judges of believing that they are above the law.
“The judiciary must know that they are not above the constitution.
“There is nothing so special that gives them the power to think they can amend this constitution and take the rights of people away. They are being contradicted in their own judgments because they think they are untouchable,” he said.
“They must know that if they continue to think that they are the law, but not interpreters of the law, then the people will rise against such few judges who have made themselves the law and are conspiring with politicians to deal with the opponents of the current establishment.
Zuma, for the second time in two weeks, accused the judiciary of bias after Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announced that he would ask the Constitutional Court to rule that the former president is in contempt and send him to prison for flouting a summons and failing to appear before the commission on state capture on Monday.
A few hours after Zondo’s announcement, Zuma issued a statement saying that this only served to harden his resolve to defy the commission probing grand corruption during his years in office.
“No amount of intimidation or blackmail will change my position as I firmly believe that we should never allow for the establishment of a judiciary in which justice, fairness and due process are discretionary and are exclusively preserved for certain litigants and not others,” the statement read.
“Many in our society have watched this form of judicial abuse but choose to look the other way merely because of their antipathy towards me.”
Ten days ago, Malema visited Zuma at his Nkandla home for tea in what was seen by some analysts as a cynical attempt to persuade him to take the witness stand, the better to continue discrediting the inquiry that has also begun probing his and fellow EFF leaders’ business dealings.