ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said ’law-abiding citizen’ Zuma gave ’extensive’ input detailing what led him to take the decision to defy the commission.
Durban – Former President Jacob Zuma appears to have managed to outsmart the Top 6 of the ANC and stuck to his decision to defy both the Constitutional Court and the Zondo commission.
Zuma met virtually with the top ANC leaders yesterday and after the meeting ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule called an impromptu press conference to announce what had transpired.
He kicked off the press conference by saying that the Top 6 and Zuma had agreed that the Constitution and the country’s Bill of Rights were important and should be respected by everyone concerned.
He then said “law-abiding citizen” Zuma made an “extensive” input detailing what led him to take the decision to defy the commission. Strangely, while Zuma issued a statement on February 1 and said he was ready to be jailed for defying the commission, Magashule claimed that the former president said he did not intend to defy it.
Other than Magashule, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, his deputy David Mabuza, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, national chairman Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile took part in the meeting.
Later Magashule said Zuma detailed “that he has been subjected to unfair persecution and prosecution for over two decades”. Apparently, that is related to his ongoing corruption trial and the gripe that the state capture commission was formed purely to target him.
Then came the confusing part of the discussions. Magashule said they agreed with Zuma that he should be given time to consult with his lawyers regarding his defiant stance.
“The Top 6 agreed that we should, we have heard President Zuma, we have engaged, we are very happy about the engagements, the discussions and we are all agreed that we should build the unity of South Africans, the unity of our structures, all of us must unite, build the ANC and continue respecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
“The Top 6 heard his explanation and agreed to give him space to continue consulting with his lawyers on these issues which he actually raised, whether to appear before the state capture commission … We have left that matter because he will further consult with his lawyers,” Magashule announced.
Even when Magashule was later prodded by the media to be specific as to whether or not they were able to persuade Zuma to change his mind, he gave a long but still incoherent answer, saying Zuma asked to be given time to consult with his lawyers.
“What is tangible is that we are at one in terms of the respect for the rule of law, the respect for the Constitution, the respect for the Bill of Rights, the respect for the rights of individuals as enshrined in the Constitution. Differing with judges we have always said does not necessarily mean you are disrespecting the judiciary. People have been critical of judges, it’s not the first time, and this has always been happening with respect ….
“This is what comrade Zuma and all of us have agreed these are the things which are fundamental to our democracy,” he said.
At the end of the press conference, all indications were that Zuma had stuck to his guns and told the Top 6 that he was not going to change his mind over the matter.
On the other hand, yesterday Zuma and his lawyers were expected to file their responding papers to a request made by the Zondo commission to the Constitutional Court to jail him for two years for defying two summons issued in January and mid-February this year.
The papers would have helped the court to have Zuma’s arguments when it sits on March 25.
While it was not clear whether he was able to instruct his lawyer to file the papers, his son, Edward Zuma, said the Zuma family would today (Tuesday) host a press conference in Durban and announce its stance regarding the meeting with the Top 6 and the Constitutional Court matter.
“Everything about those matters will be tackled during a press conference the Zuma family will host in Durban tomorrow (today),” Edward Zuma said.