Former President Jacob Zuma held no punches as he accused the justice system of violating his “personal rights” and working hard to ensure that he lands up behind bars.
The defiant Zuma said he has been left with no alternative but to be defiant against the “prejudiced system”.
In a statement released on Monday morning on the Constitutional Court’s decision compelling him to appear before the Zondo commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, Zuma was adamant that he would defy the Constitutional Court order and would not cooperate with the commission.
“I do not fear being arrested, I do not fear being convicted, nor do I fear being incarcerated,” Zuma said.
He added that he had stood firm “against the apartheid government” and was now “prepared to go to prison to defend the Constitutional rights that I personally fought for and to serve whatever sentence this democratically elected government deems appropriate as part of the special and different laws for the Zuma agenda”.
In the 60s, Zuma was arrested with a group of freedom fighters near Zeerust in the western Transvaal, currently part of the North West, and was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island with former president Nelson Mandela and other notable ANC leaders who were also imprisoned during this time.
Although the Constitutional Court ordered Zuma to testify before the commission, ruling that he doesn’t have the right to remain silent when he appears, the former president said that the court had been politicised. He added that, like the commission, the highest court in the land had “created a special and different set of circumstances specifically designed to deal with Zuma by suspending my Constitutional rights rendering me completely defenceless against the commission.”
He said: “The commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture should have been rightly named the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture against Jacob Zuma as it has been obviously established to investigate me specifically.”
“I therefore state in advance that the commission can expect no cooperation from me in any of their processes going forward. If this stance is considered to be a violation of their law, then let their law take its course.”
Last year, in an effort to not appear before the Zondo commission, Zuma’s legal team lodged a complaint to have Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo recuse himself as commission chair.
According to Zuma’s legal representatives, the deputy chief justice had a “predisposition” against the former president and was determined to find him guilty regardless of the facts.
The call was subsequently dismissed by Zondo, citing that Zuma’s application did not meet reasonable apprehension of bias.
In his statement on Monday, Zuma said: “I cannot appear before Deputy Chief Justice Zondo because of a well-founded apprehension of bias and a history of personal relations between the Deputy Chief Justice and myself.”
“I have taken the decision by the deputy chief justice not to recuse himself on review, as I believe his presiding over the proceedings does not provide me the certainty of a fair and just hearing.”
Following the Constitutional Court’s decision on Thursday that Zuma was compelled to appear before the commission, ActionSA leader and former Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba called on “President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African government to immediately take possession of Zuma’s passport as a precautionary measure to ensure that he cannot depart from the country until he has fulfilled his responsibilities to the state capture commission”.
“This is to prevent the Constitutional Court ruling being rendered meaningless,” Mashaba said in a statement released on Saturday.
This, according to Mashaba, came at the back of “reports emerging from numerous sources indicating that Zuma may be readying to jet out of South Africa to Russia in what is believed to be a bid to avoid his appointment with the state capture commission”.
“Zuma has demonstrated a willingness to treat the state capture commission with contempt and has a long history of employing legal tactics to avoid facing accountability in our courts,” he said.
The Freedom Front Plus accused Zuma of attempting to “politicise the matter” adding that “this will surely cause tensions within the ANC to spike”.
“It is clear that former president is trying to play the martyr by refusing to give evidence before the Zondo Commission and he is openly defiant in saying that he would rather face prison time than testify,”the FF+ said.
“If Zuma really is innocent, as he maintains, he can make things very easy for himself and the country by simply giving evidence before the commission where he can prove his supposed innocence.”