South Africa’s former president is warned to appear in court

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (AP) — A legal showdown is looming in South Africa where former president Jacob Zuma is refusing to obey court orders to testify at a judicial inquiry into corruption charges against him.

Zuma has been warned that he is not above the law after he publicly stated that he intends to defy a court order to appear at the inquiry.

It is a test of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa will be able to follow up on his promises to take decisive action against pervasive corruption.

Deep divisions in the ruling party, the African National Congress, have been exposed as the party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule has voiced his support of Zuma.

“Just leave comrade Zuma alone. President Zuma is a South African. He has his own rights,” Magashule said yesterday when asked by the press about Zuma saying he will defy the commission and the Constitutional Court.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma. PHOTO: AP

Zuma already faces a criminal charge for failing to testify at a commission hearing last month and further action will be taken against Zuma if he fails to honour a scheduled appearance this month, according to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission.

“It seems that Zuma considers himself to be above the law and the Constitution. The commission reiterates that in terms of the Constitution everyone is equal before the law,” Zondo said in a statement, issued this week.

Zuma is a central figure in allegations of widespread corruption when he was president from 2009 to 2018, when his governing African National Congress party forced him to step down because of growing allegations of graft.

He is accused of allowing members of the controversial Gupta family to influence his Cabinet appointments and lucrative state contracts.

Zuma has been implicated in at least 36 affidavits before the commission by individuals, including former ministers in his Cabinet.