Zuma’s Sars tweets show ‘characteristic disdain for the law’ – Ferial Haffajee

South Africa's embattled former president Jacob Zuma appears in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on corruption charges, in what would be the first time he faces trial for graft despite multiple accusations, in Pietermaritzburg on October 15, 2019. Picture: Michele Spatari / POOL / AFP

The journalist questioned why the former president was ‘happily tweeting’ after cancelling his testimony at the Zondo commission.

Journalist Ferial Haffajee questioned former president Jacob Zuma’s claims of being ill in a tweet on Wednesday, as while he cancelled his appearance this week at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture over an “unspecified illness”, he has since been “happily tweeting about the public protector and Sars”.

According to Haffajee, this is a “thumb to the nose” by the former president to the commission.

Some responded to Haffajee’s comment critically, saying that Zuma’s illness would not necessarily interfere with his ability to tweet. Haffajee told one such person that “what Judge Zondo may think about this” should be considered.

“That you cannot appear before a judicial inquiry because you are so ill but you can tweet? It’s a slap in the face. Characteristic disdain for the law,” she tweeted.

It was reported in Business Day earlier this week that the former president has not given the commission proof of his illness.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Glynnis Breytenbach accused Zuma of “evading accountability” and urged the commission to use its subpoena powers to force him to testify.

READ MORE: We haven’t backed down on Zuma’s taxes – public protector

She suggested that Zuma was applying a “Stalingrad strategy” at the commission “to avoid answering probing questions in all other matters that are being investigated, or that ought to be investigated, against him”.

Zuma posted a long series of tweets on Tuesday indicating that if Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane wanted to obtain his South African Revenue Service (Sars) records “she must have them” and claiming that he had “nothing to hide”.

This was in response to Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter seeking an urgent stay of a subpoena that would grant Mkhwebane access to Zuma’s tax records, as part of an investigation into allegations that he received R1 million from businessman Roy Moodley’s company Royal Security.

Kieswetter has clarified that he was not trying to protect the former president, but only to enforce the Tax Administration Act, which currently only allows Sars to disclose taxpayers’ information to a limited list of public bodies, the office of the protector not being one of them.

Mkhwebane agreed to a stay of the subpoena pending a hearing with Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, who is expected to clarify whether or not the public protector should be allowed to access the tax records.

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