“Don’t worry too much about the Constitution.” That was the word from corruption-accused ANC secretary general Ace Magashule this week, when asked whether he would do anything about Jacob Zuma’s defiance of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma must appear before the commission. Zuma responded by saying he will defy the Court and doesn’t fear imprisonment should this be considered a crime. He said he was being persecuted like freedom fighter and former PAC leader, Robert Sobukwe – a man who spent years in jail after bravely defying the apartheid government’s pass laws.
Zuma, on the other hand, believes he is a martyr for defying the Constitution. But Zuma is no Sobukwe, as acclaimed author Zakes Mda rightly pointed out this week. His defiance of the law is about saving his own skin, not principle.
Magashule also complained that apartheid president PW Botha refused to appear at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and “nothing happened to him”. As Rebecca Davis pointed out in the Daily Maverick this week, that is patently false. Botha was found to be in contempt of the TRC, fined R10 000, and sentenced to jail (the sentence was ultimately suspended.)
And if it is the lack of consequences for apartheid’s villains which irks Magashule, he should take that up with his own party in government, which has bafflingly refused for more than 20 years to prosecute those who didn’t seek amnesty at the TRC.
The good news is that Zuma’s behaviour has riled many parts of society. The influential Eastern Cape leadership of his own party says Zuma should be brought to book.
The commission said it would lay charges against Zuma if he fails to appear again. Justice Minister Ronald Lamola called for everyone to support the commission’s work.
Our Constitution is respected all over the world for its commitment to entrenching human rights. Our Constitutional Court is the envy of judges all over the world.
We should all defend it. Because we DO worry, Ace. And so should you.
This article was originally published in The Wrap here.
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