Upheaval and division of the ANC looms if Jacob Zuma is jailed: MKMVA
A handful supporters of former president Jacob Zuma braved the rain on Thursday to protest outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, where an application is under way by the state capture inquiry to ask the court to find Zuma guilty of contempt of court.
The application comes after Zuma's public defiance of a court order instructing him to appear before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo to answer questions about his role as a former head of state.
“We are deeply concerned that he is not being given the opportunity to deal with the matter of the biasness of Mr Zondo properly, also through his appeal to the high court, but the Zondo commission rushed to the highest court in the country - this regards the appeal that Zuma had made with the high court - and now we are faced with a situation where [former] president Zuma is faced with a staged situation of contempt of court,” said Niehaus.
“We find that this urgent application by Mr Justice Zondo [sic] is a further indication of the biasness of Mr Zondo and the commission that he chairs. We are in favour of president Zuma treated in an equal way, like every other citizen in this country. Unfortunately, that is not the case - he has been targeted specifically.
“We are shocked that Mr Zondo is demanding a two-year sentence, in terms of the 1947 Commissions Act.
“We see here that Mr Zondo is going out of his way to try and get the harshest sentence, to target him again. Those actions just confirm to us once gain that he's biased against president Zuma and that Zuma will not be able to get a fair hearing as long as it chaired by Zondo.”
Describing Zuma's woes with the commission and the courts, Niehaus said: “It is not the matter of law but it's politics.
“Our courts should not allow themselves to be used for such political purposes.”
Asked what the MKMVA would do if the court found Zuma guilty and imposed a jail term, Niehaus said such a ruling would be “totally, utterly unacceptable”.
“We will obviously protest. An outcome which leads to president Zuma in prison will be entirely unacceptable to us. We really hope that situation will not take place because that situation will inevitably lead to upheaval and instability in South Africa and cause further divisions within the ANC,” he argued.
Members of Action SA also gathered outside the court, calling for Zuma to be held accountable.
“We are here today in support of the rule of law. If the former president is found to be in contempt of law or contempt of court, he must go to jail or pay a fine. However, this is not only about the judgment but sending a message to South Africans to say that all of us are binded by the same rule of law,” said spokesperson Zark Lebatlang.