A judicial commission probing corruption in South Africa has filed a suit against former president Jacob Zuma for shunning a court order for two years.
The panel, who approached South Africa’s top court accused Zuma of deliberately defying direct others from the court compelling him to testify
In an urgent suit the commission filed against the 78-year-old, they alleged that he had “intentionally and unlawfully failed to appear” on 15 to 19 February 2021 or to supply affidavits.
Zuma has been avoiding the commission since it was set up in 2018 to probe financial activities on the country during his nine-year rule.
Zuma had accused the commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of being biased even as he repeatedly snubbed invitation from them. When he appeared once in July 2019, he staged a walkout days later.
According to the application filed by the secretary of the commission, “It is declared that Jacob Gedleyihiekisa Zuma is guilty of contempt of court. He intentionally and unlawfully failed to appear before the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, corruption, and fraud in the public sector including organs of state.”
In a latest showdown, Zuma refused to show up despite the Constitutional Court ordering him to do so.
Zuma defiantly announced that he was not scared of being arrested, incarcerated or convicted.
In a 12-page statement last week, Zuma accused Zondo of “political propaganda.”
“Some judges have assisted the incumbent president to hide from society what on the face of it seem to be bribes obtained in order to win an internal ANC election,” he added, without naming names.
Earlier on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa dismissed Zuma’s allegation on judges and stated that such accusations could destroy the trust the people have in judiciary and constitutional order.
He said such attacks, without evidence or being referred to relevant authorities, were “deeply disturbing”.
“We should be concerned when those who occupy prominent positions in society make statements that demonstrate a disdain for the basic principles of our constitution and the institutions established to defend our democracy,” said Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter.
The president also said the attacks should not be taken lightly and warned those who make them of possible consequences.
The ANC’s top leadership is reportedly lining up a meeting with Zuma to resolve the impasse with the anti-graft commission.
Zondo said the allegations made against Zuma by dozens of witnesses are being treated as evidence because they were given under oath, and some of the witnesses have been subjected to cross-examination.