/ 17 September 2021

Zuma’s rescission application dismissed with costs

Former president Jacob Zuma. Phil Magakoe/Reuters
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Phil Magakoe/Reuters)

The constitutional court on Friday dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a rescission of his 15-month sentence for contempt with costs. 

Acting Deputy Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe said Zuma had failed to meet statutory requirements in that he did not establish “a reasonable and satisfactory explanation for his failure to oppose contempt proceedings” and that he did not prove he had a bona fide case. 

Zuma had asked the court to set aside both the contempt order and his 15-month prison sentence, meted out after he failed to respect a directive to appear at the Zondo commission probing state capture.

The former president pleaded with the court to “relook its decision and to merely reassess whether it has acted within the constitution or, erroneously, beyond the powers vested in the court by the constitution”.

Handing down judgment, Khampepe said: “The conclusion of the majority of the constitutional court reaches that this application falls to be dismissed with costs.”

Zuma’s appeal to broaden the apex court’s ground of rescission — should his not reach the requirements — had the opposite outcome. 

The former president submitted that if he failed to establish the requirements for rescission the constitutional court should expand the meaning of a rescindable order.

Khampepe said the court must “do the opposite” because “the very notion rescinding a court order is an affront to the rule that orders, especially those of the apex court that are final”.

She added that “the interest of justice requires the constitutional court to protect the principle of finality in litigation” otherwise the administration of justice would be “compromised by chaos”. 

Zuma is out of jail on medical parole for an undisclosed condition after serving just under two months of his 15 month sentence.

The Mail & Guardian previously reported that Zuma, who would have been eligible for normal parole on 23 October, was placed on medical parole based on a report by the South African Military Health Services, according to correctional services spokesperson Singabako Nxumalo.