ANC’s bid to persuade Zuma to avoid jail


BHEKI Cele, the South African Minister of Police has met former President Jacob Zuma to persuade him to avoid a possible prison term by adhering to the summons and a Constitutional Court ruling to appear before the Zondo Commission into state capture. 

Cele has disclosed, in an interview with South African TV station Newzroom Afrika, that his mission to Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal was to speak to Zuma, who has made it clear that he would rather go to jail than appear before the Zondo Commission, to change his mind.

Cele would not disclose the outcome of the meeting but revealed that Zuma would meet with the six most senior leaders of the ANC, commonly referred to as the “Top Six”, to discuss his position.

He said he has already reported the discusssion of his meeting with Zuma to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa as well as the party’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. 

Cele did however say that the law would be applied, if, after discussions with the ANC leadership, Zuma retained his positions, which will be in violation of a Constitutional Court rulling as well as sumnons from the Zondo Commission, which has the legal status of a high court.

“No one has the option of not following the law,” Cele said.

The ANC’s attempt to find a political solution to an unprecedented standoff between a former head of state and the highest court in the land, came after Zuma’s repeated stand that he will not appear before the Zondo Commission.

Zuma’s stance came after the commission, chaired by Zondo, announced it would approach the Constitutional Court and seek a conviction as well as a prison term.

Zuma then  made it clear that he was ready to face the consequences of his decision.  

“Now that it seems that my role in the Commission has come to an end, I wait to face the sentence to be issued by the Constitutional Court. Accordingly, I stand by my statement of 1 February 2021 and no amount of intimidation or blackmail will change my position as I firmly believe that we should never allow for the establishment of a judiciary in which justice, fairness and due process are discretionary and are exclusively preserved for certain litigants and not others.

“Many in our society have watched this form of judicial abuse but choose to look the other way merely because of their antipathy towards me. They choose to lay the blame at my doorstep and fail to confront head-on the judicial crisis that is unfolding in our country.  The Zondo Commission has today again showed how it is short of the attributes necessary to conduct an independent, fair and impartial investigation or hearings that involve me or that contradict their script on state capture,” Zuma said.

The former president said he took the step to boycott the Zondo Commission hearings not to undermine the Constitution “but to vindicate it, in the face of what I view as a few in the judiciary that have long left their constitutional station to join political battles.”

Zuma also alleged that the commission was conceptualized as part of a campaign and sponsored multi-sectoral collaboration to remove him from office. He said the commission, which he appointed when he was president and asked South Africans to cooperate with it, was appointed unlawfully.
In announcing his decision to approach the Constitutional Court, Zondo said the commission viewed Zuma’s snub in a serious light. He said if Zuma was allowed to get away with ignoring the commission then there would be lawlessness and chaos in the courts. The commission views Mr Zuma’s conduct in a very serious light, particularly because it is repeated conduct. The commission has not treated Mr Zuma unfairly at all. He has no valid or sound reason for not appearing before the commission,” Zondo said.

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