South Africa’s ruling African National Congress distanced itself from former president Jacob Zuma’s attempt to discredit the Constitutional Court after it found him guilty of contempt, and slated threats by his supporters to block the authorities from arresting him.
All South Africans have a responsibility to respect and observe the law, and the judiciary and law-enforcement agencies need to be defended from political attack, the ANC’s National Executive Committee, its top leadership structure, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The interests of an individual cannot take precedence over or jeopardize the interests of our democracy or of the nation,” it said. “Any attempt to respond to legal and judicial matters through threats and acts of violence from any quarter is abhorrent and should not, and will not, be tolerated.”
The Constitutional Court on June 29 found Zuma, 79, guilty of violating its order to testify before a judicial panel that’s probing graft during his nine-year rule, and sentenced him to 15 months in jail. It subsequently agreed to consider his application for the judgment to be reviewed and scheduled a hearing for July 12.
Zuma accused the nation’s top legal tribunal of sentencing him without trial, and likened its conduct to that of the courts under White-minority rule, which ended in 1994.
A large crowd of Zuma’s supporters gathered outside his rural homestead in Nkandla in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province at the weekend in contravention of rules prohibiting public gatherings during an upsurge in coronavirus infections, and vowed to stop the police from apprehending him.
Zuma ruled South Africa for almost nine scandal-marred years until the ANC forced him to step down in 2018 to stem a loss of electoral support. The government estimates that more than R500 billion ($35 billion) was stolen from state coffers. He denies wrongdoing.