Judgment reserved in Zuma vs State Capture – So what happens now?
Firebrand Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi represented the State Capture Commission on Thursday’s Constitutional Court sitting, where a panel of judges heard his submissions on former president Jacob Zuma.
Ngcukaitobi: State Capture Commission is done yielding to Zuma’s defiance
You will remember that the commission, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, had extended the former president a rope to skirt possible prison time for contempt.
In a response to Zuma’s continued defiance, Zondo had offered Zuma a way out of trouble: Testify before the commission and in return, the contempt prison sentence may be suspended.
Zuma had until Thursday 25 March to step out of his Nkandla homestead and face the music in an inquiry where more than 40 witnesses have linked him to state capture.
Of course, the former president made it abundantly clear that, until Zondo recuses himself and every ‘tainted’ judge is removed from proceedings, he would not grace the inquiry with his return.
To Adv. Ngcukaitobi, this was every bit of an indication of Zuma’s sheer disregard of the rule of law, and for that, no further delay in facing the full might of the judiciary must be afforded to him.
“There is no one who is entitled to say that the judges have ‘abandoned their green robes’. No one is entitled to say that some judges have received money from Mr Ramaphosa. No one is entitled to say that the Constitutional Court has become a threat to democracy. No one is entitled to say that the judgment of the Constitutional Court mimics the posture that has been adopted by the commission, which is designed to make unfair judgments against Mr Zuma,” Ngcukaitobi exclaimed.
In response to the commission’s submissions, the Con-Court reserved its judgment and adjourned proceedings without indicating when it would return with a decision.
What happens now?
While the panel of judges convenes over the ‘just’ punishment for Zuma, it remains unclear what the former president’s fate will be. A number of factors may play into the court’s decision.
Zuma is 78 years old. For a senior citizen with a recorded history of medical ailments, a two-year bid in prison may be a harsh punishment for someone guilty of not showing up to a commission of inquiry.
There is also the perplexing impact this may have on the inquiry’s pursuits of justice. Zuma is a central figure in the state capture probe and his participation would shed a lot of light on the scale of corruption that may have taken place under his leadership.
For the Con-Court, this is a great consideration to brood over. But, Ngcukaitobis views are different:
“The spectacle we fear, is the spectacle of Mr Zuma continuing to run rings around the commission. Because he is brought today, he doesn’t speak, he is brought the other day, and the entire thing degenerates into a circus. We do not ask for his appearance, we ask for his punishment.”