The Strategic Dialogue Group (SDG), a collective of ex-African National Congress (ANC) youth activists, has condemned former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to walk out of the commission of inquiry into state capture, saying Zuma had betrayed his oath of office.
In a statement released Friday on behalf of the SDG, ANC veteran Professor Billy Ramokgopa Ramokgopa said Zuma’s allegation of a ‘political conspiracy’ had no factual standing.
“For more than a decade, Zuma himself has been a peddler of the narrative of ‘political conspiracy’ in an attempt to explain away his unending legal woes and to solicit sympathy from ANC members and the population. But one thing has been consistent: he has so far failed to provide evidence of such conspiracy before the courts and latterly, the Zondo commission.”
The SDG are mostly former leaders of student and youth organisations in the 70s,’80s and ’90s.
Zuma a bad role model
Ramokgopa said after retirement, former heads of state remain part of the nation’s public life, “with many people continuing to look up to them for guidance.”
“Unstatesmanly (sic) or indecent conduct on their part becomes a matter of public interest. For this reason, [we] unapologetically condemn Zuma’s conduct, lest it come to be misconstrued as a heroic deed.”
He added that Zuma’s conduct was part of “a deeply disturbing tendency by some leaders of the governing party.”
“[Their] conduct communicates the vulgar message that there are two laws – one for ANC leaders and another for citizens who are neither members of the ANC nor connected to high-ranking politicians.”
Tainted ANC leaders cry foul
He said the many “tainted” ANC leaders attribute their problems to a “political conspiracy” when decisions by the prosecution authorities adversely affect them, their friends and associates.
“They… vilify such decisions with little if any facts, logic and rationality, in the hope that virulent factional politics and not the law will become the final arbiter of legal disputes.”
Ramokgopa warned ANC members and activists to be cautious “of the peddlers of the narrative of political conspiracy.”
“The cost of being hoodwinked by these confidence tricksters will be far reaching for the future of South Africa and its people. Lastly, we call on the Zondo commission to press contempt charges against Zuma. If this is not done, it will render the commission and the law impotent.”
Zuma vs Zondo
On Thursday, state capture inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo dismissed Zuma’s application for his recusal.
Zuma’s counsel said his legal team will review Zondo’s decision, with the former president leaving the inquiry without Zondo’s permission.
James Grant is a High Court Advocate, and legal advice guru. He stated earlier in November that non-cooperation on a grand scale could be classed as a criminal offence – and he’s got judicial backing from Section 6 of The Commissions Act.
The long-standing law clearly states that a failure to attend on the specific dates and times – as set out by a summons from a legal commission – can leave an offender liable for a fine… or even a conviction:
“Any person summoned to attend and give evidence before a Commission who fails to attend at the time and the place specified in the summons… shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or even imprisonment that does not exceed six months. Both punishments can be imposed.”
Section 6 of The Commissions Act on who can be arrested
In 2017, Ramokgopa reading out the declarations of the national consultative conference of ANC stalwarts, said the elders of the liberation movement were deeply hurt by what they regarded as a “betrayal” of the people’s long-standing support and trust in the 105-year-old political party.
“We observe that the current elected leadership of the ANC is paralysed and unable to deal with ill-discipline, incompetence and corruption that point directly to the highest offices in the land.”