Former president Jacob Zuma has made it clear that he believes only a system where parliament is allowed to rule unfettered can be considered a true democracy.
Former president Jacob Zuma seems to be looking like he wants to tear up the constitution because he believes the judiciary is subverting the “will of the people”.
His animus for the courts, which he claims are being used by his political enemies to persecute him, was made clear in the 23 pages of notes of what he told a meeting of the ANC top six.
He made it clear he believed that only a system where parliament was allowed to rule unfettered could be considered a true democracy. Zuma has refused to acknowledge the corruption, which parliament failed to deal with under his administration, instead protecting him on numerous occasions.
However, experts say he is making a fatal error in assuming the judiciary is controlling the democratic process.
At the meeting – the notes of which were later released as an official statement signed by him – Zuma launched scathing attacks on the current judiciary which he has accused of apartheid tendencies and for “arresting” decisions made by parliament.
In justifying his blatant defiance of a Constitutional Court ruling, which ordered him to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, he said the constitution which “we all praise has turned into an instrument to subvert the will of the people”.
“The majority of the people who mandate us at every election to represent them in parliament can no longer see their aspirations being attained by us because the decisions and actions of parliament are permanently arrested by the judiciary through the constitution. In other words, we are forced into implementing only that which an unelected judiciary agrees with.”
The courts, however, cannot tell parliament what to do, due to the separation of powers, said constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos.
“What they [the judiciary] do is to serve a check on the exercise of power so that nobody has absolute power because absolute power tends to corrupt.
“This is part of a system of checks and balances.
“If a Constitutional Court declares invalid a legislation, parliament can … pass new legislation, as long as this is, of course, constitutionally compliant.”
Zuma slammed the Constitutional Court for continuing to rule in favour of Zondo despite his legal team challenging the latter’s decision not to recuse himself. But the former president had another legal option.
He could request the commission’s report to be set aside once it is issued, De Vos explained.
“He can challenge it, have it reviewed and ask the courts to set it aside on the basis that the deputy chief justice did not recuse himself,” he said.
Zuma went on to accuse the ANC of neglecting him and leaving him out to dry when he was hounded by allegations of corruption and rape while having to pay back money for Nkandla upgrades which he said he did not ask for.
“The ANC and my comrades have either looked the other way and/or joined the bandwagon to ridicule me and strip me naked in the public eye,” he said.
He did enjoy some protection during his tenure, including surviving several motions of no confidence. His comrades also came to his defence on the necessity of a R3.9 million swimming pool at Nkandla, which was actually a “fire pool” in case his homestead’s thatch roofing caught alight.
But he was playing the victimisation card, political analyst Professor Barry Hanyane said.
“Everyone else who is not necessarily close to him and has authority, power and influence who seeks to question his own contradictions is somewhat an enemy of some kind,” he said.
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