'Jacob Zuma must face the consequences of his actions' - Casac

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Former president Jacob Zuma at the State Capture commission.
Former president Jacob Zuma at the State Capture commission.
Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images
  • The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution says Jacob Zuma should face the consequences of his actions.
  • Zuma has made it clear that he is willing to face jail time rather than appear before the commission. 
  • The Zondo commission says Zuma's threats show that he considers himself to be "above the law and the Constitution".

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) says former president Jacob Zuma should face the consequences of his actions, saying failure to do so will weaken the foundation of the democratic order.

Casac has welcomed a statement issued by the state capture inquiry slamming Zuma's announcement that he will not obey a summons to appear before the commission.

Casac, in a statement on Wednesday, said the commission had emphasised that respect for the rule of law was a fundamental principle of the constitutional order.

"The behaviour and statement made by and on behalf of Mr Jacob Zuma in respect of his duty to appear before the commission of inquiry, demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the summonses issued by the commission as well as last week's order by the Constitutional Court directing that Mr Zuma appear before the commission and answer questions put to him," Casac's Lawson Naidoo said.

READ | He thinks 'he's above the law': Zondo commission slams Zuma's refusal to obey ConCourt order

Following a ruling by the apex court in favour of the commission, Zuma made it clear that he was willing to face jail time rather than appear before the commission to answer questions about his tenure. 

On Monday, Zuma released a statement and contended that his defiance was motivated by the Constitutional Court ruling that he did not have a blanket "right to silence" in response to the hundreds of questions the inquiry wishes to put to him.

The court also found that while Zuma had a right to protect himself against self-incrimination, he needed to explain why his response could incriminate him in a specific crime in order to exercise it.

But Zuma had argued that the apex court "effectively decided that I as an individual citizen, could no longer expect to have my basic constitutional rights protected and upheld by the country's Constitution".

"I felt moved to publicly express solidarity with the sentiments and concerns raised with me about a clearly politicised segment of the judiciary that now heralds an imminent constitutional crisis in this country."

However, Naidoo said "it cannot be that a former head of state treats the courts, laws and summons with such disdain, in a desperate attempt to evade accountability".

He said that should Zuma fail to appear before the commission on 15 February, the commission should institute proceedings for contempt of the Constitutional Court order.

Last year, the commission laid a criminal complaint with law enforcement agencies following Zuma's walk-out in defiance of a summons issued against him.

Naidoo said each breach by the former president should result in further charges.

"Mr Zuma's disrespect for the rule of law cannot and should not be tolerated. He must face the consequences for his actions. Failure to do so will weaken the foundation of our hard-fought democratic order."

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the commission said Zuma's threats showed that he considered himself to be "above the law and the Constitution".

"It is to be noted that, while Mr Zuma refuses to comply with the Constitution and to obey the order of the Constitutional Court, on the one hand, he continues to enjoy the benefits that the Constitution grants to all former presidents in terms of his pension and other benefits paid for by the taxpayers," it said.

ALSO READ | ‘I do not fear prison’: Zuma hits back at Zondo commission ruling

The secretary of the commission had been instructed to lay a criminal complaint against Zuma for not appearing from 18 to 22 January 2021.

Zuma is due to appear before the commission from 15 to 19 February.

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