Wrongful attacks on Zondo
During all of former president Jacob Zuma’s troubles with the law, he and his supporters have not once paused to consider whether he actually does have a case to answer. Theirs has been a festival of conspiracies, with Zuma being the target of multiple forces – both domestic and international.
In their quest to defend their man, Zuma’s supporters attacked any person and any institution holding him to account, deeming them enemies and counter-revolutionaries. The judiciary, whose duty and responsibility is to adjudicate matters that come before it, has not escaped the ire of Zuma’s brigands. Over the past 15 years, judges have been attacked by Zuma’s supporters, either individually or as a collective.
During his years as president, relations between the executive and the judiciary plunged to an alltime low. The persistent attacks on the judiciary prompted it to fight back, led by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in defence of judicial independence. It was uncharacteristic of South Africa’s judges to publicly take a stand against the actions of the government of the day, but they were left with no choice.
The judiciary is once more in the crosshairs of the Zuma crowd. This time, the target is Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who is chairing the commission of inquiry into state capture. After making a comical appearance at the commission last year, where he spun loony conspiracy theories about global forces ganging up on him, Zuma has been resisting a follow-up appearance. This has compelled the commission to threaten a subpoena to force him to come back to the stand. This is what prompted attacks on Zondo’s person.
The attacks by Zuma’s acolytes have been levelled at the mandate of the commission, which has been accused of furthering the interests of so-called white monopoly capital and suppressing the proponents of so-called radical economic transformation. Zondo himself has been accused of having personal bias against Zuma, and of trying to humiliate the former president to position himself as the chief justice who will succeed Mogoeng.
These attacks cannot be taken lightly. They are the dangerous work of desperate forces defending a desperate man. Society must speak out in defence the work of the commission and the integrity of the judge chairing this important process.