Zuma Defies South African Court’s ‘Sham’ Sentence Directive

Jacob Zuma

South African ex-president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday declined a court directive to suggest how he should be punished if found guilty of defying an order to testify in a corruption hearing.

Zuma, accused of enabling runaway graft during his tenure in office, ignored a Constitutional Court order to testify before a commission investigating the graft allegations.

Last week the top court directed him to suggest an appropriate sentence after the panel sought a two-year jail term for contempt.

The 79-year-old had until Wednesday to make the suggestion, but the defiant Zuma chose to send a scathing 21-page letter to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng criticising the judiciary instead.

“As currently framed the directions –- to the extent they purport to give me a right to a hearing on the question of sanction -– it is a sham and an attempt to sanitise the gravity of the repressive manner in which the court has dealt with my issues,” he wrote.

Zuma said he had “thought long and hard” about the directive and had decided against filing an affidavit.

He had already skipped the hearing last month.

“My decision not to participate in the contempt of court proceedings was based on my belief that my participation would not change the atmosphere of judicial hostility and humiliation reflected in its judgement against me,” said Zuma.

Zuma has repeatedly snubbed the commission investigating state looting during his nine-year rule.

He testified only once in July 2019 before staging a walkout days later after accusing its chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of bias.

Zuma, who has previously declared he does not fear incarceration, said he was ready for the court’s decision and preparing himself for the “obvious although unjustified severity.”

The Constitutional Court has not yet set a date for its ruling.

Zuma, who came to power in 2009, was forced to resign in 2018 over graft scandals involving an Indian business family, the Guptas — who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even allowed to choose cabinet ministers.


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