On the day that former president Jacob Zuma officially defied the Constitutional Court order to appear before the Zondo commission, the ANC in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal is still hopeful that engaging him will yield a solution.
Provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala on Monday, while speaking on the unity of the party, said one of the issues that was a threat to the party related to matters concerning the former president.
Zikalala was addressing ANC NEC deployees, leagues, alliances and government representatives during a provincial executive committee (PEC) lekgotla in Durban – while in Johannesburg, commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, announced that grounds for Zuma’s continued defiance of the state capture inquiry have no merit.
“We know the commission summoned the former president to appear before it. While we take note of the reservation raised by the former president, we also believe that the national leadership and provincial officials will be able to engage with the former president on these issues,” said Zikalala.
“We must ensure that we engage him to understand that the organisation and leaders of the organisation at all material times must embrace the laws of our country and equally ensure that they subject themselves to the laws of the country.”
However, he emphasised that the engagements were not to chastise or dictate to the former president and therefore in engaging Zuma “we must ensure that his rights are not undermined by anything including the state organs”.
Through his legal team, Zuma in a letter said he would not appear before the commission, despite a formal notice from it stating that he was expected to appear at 10am on Monday.
“We formally inform the commission, as a matter of courtesy, that our client will not be appearing before the commission on February 15-19 2021,” said the Zuma team.
“The summons issued for our client to appear on February 15-19 is irregular and not in line with the fourth order of the Constitutional Court judgment of January 28 2021.”
Zondo, meanwhile, said Zuma’s excuses to avoid appearing at the commission were lacking in legal logic.
The ANC in KZN, however, remained adamant that a resolution to the standoff would be found through engagements with Zuma.
“We cannot undermine the fact that this matter will have an effect on the ANC in KZN and nationally. We therefore need to handle it with caution and with a sense of preserving the law, but at the same time, ensuring the rights of individuals are protected, ensure that where possible, those whose rights are infringed are given a proper platform to ventilate their grievances,” Zikalala added.
By Zimasa Matiwane