Today was D-day for Jacob Zuma. After his many, brazen refusals to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, and his poor showing at the court case around said refusals, the highest court in our land met to decide the former president’s fate. A reminder: lawyers for the inquiry previously argued before the Constitutional Court that Zuma should get two years in prison – more than is usually given – for his repeated defiance, if he is found guilty of contempt of court.
So it’s a pity that after all that anticipation, judgment has been reserved. But we’ll give you the lowdown on what the court decides when it does make its ruling.
It was such a big day that an entirely new civil society body came together to support the constitution on the day. 🇿🇦
The ‘Defend our Democracy’ campaign was launched to coincide with Human Rights Day this past weekend. An online petition was circulated calling for Zuma to appear before the inquiry and for South Africans to rally behind this call. It gathered about 7000 signatories across the ideological divide, from former DA leaders Mmusi Maimane and Lindiwe Mazibuko, to former ANC leaders like Thabo Mbeki (through the foundation that carries his name), Frank Chikane, former finance minister Trevor Manuel, and business leaders like Discovery CEO Adrian Gore and Business Unity SA CEO Cas Coovadia.
Zuma, of course, decided not to participate in the Constitutional Court proceedings. The court justices will make their decision without his input. Our former president’s famous “Stalingrad” strategy – his trick of delaying legal processes endlessly so he does not have to face justice – hasn’t worked this time.
The commission approached the apex court, so Zuma can’t waste time with endless appeals. Plus the Constitutional Court hearing was quick: legal star Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, appearing for the commission, took centre stage. The advocate argued that Zuma shouldn’t be given more time to appear before the commission, or merely fined for his non-compliance. He should, to use Monopoly parlance, “Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect R200.” 😜