Former President Jacob Zuma
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The Zondo commission has slammed former president Jacob Zuma's announcement that he will not obey a summons to appear before the state capture inquiry.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the commission said this act showed that Zuma considered himself to be "above the law and the Constitution".
"It is to be noted that, while Mr Zuma refuses to comply with the Constitution and to obey the order of the Constitutional Court, on the one hand, he continues to enjoy the benefits that the Constitution grants to all former presidents in terms of his pension and other benefits paid for by the taxpayers," the commission said.
The secretary of the commission has been instructed to lay a criminal complaint against Zuma for not appearing from 18 to 22 January 2021.
The statement also spoke of Zuma's "attacks" on the integrity of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, saying Zondo "will deal with those attacks in a separate statement".
Following a ruling by the highest court in the land in favour of the commission, the former president made it clear that he was willing to face jail time rather than appear before the state capture commission to answer questions about his nine years in office.
In a six-page statement released on Monday, Zuma contended that his defiance is motivated by the Constitutional Court's ruling that he did not have a blanket "right to silence" in response to the hundreds of questions the inquiry wishes to put to him.
The country's highest court found that, while Zuma had a privilege against self-incrimination, he needed to explain why his response could incriminate him in a specific crime in order to exercise it.
Zuma argued that the Constitutional Court "effectively decided that I as an individual citizen, could no longer expect to have my basic constitutional rights protected and upheld by the country's Constitution".
I felt moved to publicly express solidarity with the sentiments and concerns raised with me about a clearly politicised segment of the judiciary that now heralds an imminent constitutional crisis in this country.
Lawson Naidoo, a constitutional law expert with the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, said Zuma's attempt to justify his defiance of the inquiry is tantamount to "blatant" contempt of the commission, News24 reported.
"The fact that Zuma did not participate in the inquiry's Constitutional Court case to compel him to appear and answer questions precludes him from now raising arguments that he could have raised there," Naidoo said at the time.
"He had the option to state his case there, but he chose not to do so.... What he is doing now is nothing more than open defiance of the inquiry."
Zuma is due to appear before the commission from 15 to 19 February.
Tuesday night's statement said: "As already indicated, the order of the Constitutional Court compels Mr Zuma to comply with that summons by appearing before the commission and answering questions that may be put to him."
The statement also said: "The commission is concerned that Mr Zuma's decision to defy the order of the Constitutional Court and the summons of the commission displays a complete disregard for the rights and interests that South Africans have in obtaining comprehensive responses from him to a lot of evidence regarding state capture, corruption and fraud that concern him and others connected with him that relate to his terms of office as president of the country which have been led in the commission over the past three years."