July 4, 2021


3 min read

Zuma calls Zondo Commission ‘slaughterhouse’

Zuma calls Zondo Commission ‘slaughterhouse’

Former SA president Jacob Zuma

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FORMER South African president Jacob Zuma drew from the patriarch’s classic book of tricks when they meet a strong woman who will not put up with their nonsense: call her “emotional and angry”.

To wit: the midnight statement from the Jacob G Zuma Foundation ends: “In conclusion, the Jacob Zuma Foundation denounces Judge Kampepe (sic) judgment as judicially emotional and angry and not consistent with our Constitution.” Never mind the punctuation, they even spell the judge’s surname incorrectly. It’s Khampepe, by the way. 

The patriarchs from the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) forces are out on the attack. An image of acting chief justice Khampepe greeting President Cyril Ramaphosa is doing the social media rounds to build digital disrespect for the woman who delivered a judgment on 29 June that stands for the rule of law like a sentinel.

It’s typical, really. Zuma’s minions may claim him as a great feminist leader, but is he? Ask his wives – two of whom left him in acrimonious circumstances that suggest relationships that were less than equal. One of his wives was “banished” or cast out – how feudal is that? He had a relationship with the daughter of a friend and made promises he did not keep.  

The story of Khwezi, another daughter of a friend, and the woman who brought rape charges against the former president, is one we must never forget. Those charges failed but in the course of the trial, Khwezi was treated like a witch in Salem.  

So, it is completely unsurprising that Zuma has lodged a gendered attack on Khampepe and refused to deal with any of the substantive questions raised by the judgment. Why did he and his lawyers not take up her April offer to file an affidavit, which the Constitutional Court judges offered? He could have requested a stay of his trial. Why did he launch digital missile after missile at the judiciary in general and at the Constitutional Court in particular rather than appear before the court? He could have done so in January when the order was made compelling him to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, which he set up.

Today (1 July), he calls that commission a “slaughterhouse” and an “administrative agency” when in fact it is a judicial commission of inquiry ordered into being by himself. This is a kind of madness repeated without self-reflection by his minions. Judge Raymond Zondo has bent over backwards to accommodate Zuma so that he can be heard by it. Scores of letters have been sent informing him that he has been named in testimony; numerous summonses have been sent; criminal contempt charges have been laid (which team Zuma conveniently forget) and back-channel efforts have been made to get him to appear and to substantively answer questions on the 40-odd areas of evidence which implicate or name him.

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He did not, and is now about to stage a political drama in which he will portray himself as the victim once again.

One of the many beautiful bits of the scaffolding of our Constitutional Court is that it builds in the right of dissent and it makes the debate of the judges transparent by publishing minority judgments. Judge Leona Theron’s dissenting judgment, acceded to by Judge Chris Jafta, is a piece of scholarship about how to ensure the constitutional rights of a person found guilty. But it is a minority view – Zuma, who now maligns many of the Constitutional Court judges he appointed, wants us to only see the minority judgment and not the one that now stands as law. It is nonsense. DM


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