In addition to raising the bias of its chairman, Jacob Zuma argues that the Anti-Corruption Commission was specifically created to investigate him. His refusal to appear before it despite a Constitutional Court decision can have serious consequences.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma (photo) decided not to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption at the Head of State, also known as the Zondo Commission, despite a constitutional court ruling that compelled him to do so.
In a statement issued on Monday 1 February by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, the former leader said he is not afraid of going to jail if his decision not to cooperate with the Commission was considered a violation of the law.
« If this position is considered a violation of their law, let their law take its course, » said Jacob Zuma, adding: « I am not afraid of being arrested. I am not afraid of being convicted, I am not afraid of being incarcerated.
On 28 January, South Africa’s Constitutional Court ordered the former president to obey the summons and directives of the Zondo Commission. This decision came after months of dilatory and procedural delays by the former head of state in order to avoid testifying before the commission, which is charged with investigating suspicions of corruption in state bodies for which he has sometimes been summoned.
Reflecting on his past as an anti-apartheid fighter, for which he served a 10-year sentence at Robben Island Prison, Jacob Zuma argues that he « never imagined that there would come a time when a democratic government in South Africa based on constitutional values would behave exactly like the apartheid government in creating legal processes designed to target specific individuals in society.
« Witnessing this causes much greater pain when you realise that this is a black liberated government behaving in this way against one of their own, » he said.
According to him, his willingness not to appear is based mainly on the fact that he accuses his president, Judge Raymond Zondo, of being « biased » and that he had to recuse himself.
« I never said I did not want to appear before the Commission, but I said I could not appear before Associate Chief Justice Zondo because of a well-founded fear of bias and a history of personal relations between the Associate Chief Justice and myself, » he said. He added that « his chairing » over the proceedings does not give him « the certainty of a fair and equitable hearing ».
Rather than being called the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption at the Head of State, the former leader ironically believes that it should have been called the Commission of Inquiry into Corruption Allegations against Jacob Zuma because, in his view, « it was clearly established to specifically investigate me ».
If he ignores the convening of the commission after the recent Constitutional Court ruling, Jacob Zuma faces a sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine, South African media report.