Former president Jacob Zuma is “not just an ordinary chap from Nkandla” and his arrest for defying a Constitutional Court order will have serious implications for the African National Congress (ANC).
This is according to ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli, who said Zuma should be convinced not to ignore a subpoena to appear before the Zondo commission of inquiry.
“If he gets arrested there will be serious consequences to the unity and cohesion of the ANC. When Zuma goes to court, you see the level of support from those who go outside of court… if he goes to prison, it suggests that there will be a serious level of unhappiness,” he said.
The Zondo commission has laid criminal charges against Zuma for failing to appear before it last month and has said it will take further action if Zuma does not comply with a subpoena for him to appear next week.
Despite a Constitutional Court order for him to appear and answer questions before the commission, Zuma said he did not fear being arrested, convicted or incarcerated.
Ntuli said Zuma’s defiance of the commission of inquiry will “have a profound impact on the ANC and society” but added that “if he gets arrested it will leave a serious bitter taste in the ANC.”
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has called on the ANC’s top six leaders to meet with Zuma to convince him that ignoring the courts is a violation of the constitutional dispensation.
“We want them to meet with him and to hear him out. They must hear his concerns about the Zondo commission and to ultimately convince him to go to the commission of inquiry,” Ntuli said.
He said their request for officials to meet with Zuma has already been relayed to the office of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. The ANC top six leaders, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, are expected to meet on Friday morning.
“We hope that they will discuss our request in their meeting there,” Ntuli said.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the officials were likely to meet before a scheduled meeting of the national working committee on Friday, in anticipation of the national executive committee (NEC) meeting this weekend.
He said it was likely that the Zuma matter would be raised in the meeting of the party’s top brass.
Zuma’s defiance of the Zondo commission has been supported by the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association. The organisation plans to meet him on Thursday to express their support of his decision.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema travelled to Nkandla last Friday to convince Zuma to cooperate with the commission.
He has been summonsed to appear and answer questions before the commission from 15 to 19 February.
Zuma has repeatedly bemoaned that he has been treated unfairly by the commission of inquiry and its chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Ntuli said as a member of the ANC NEC, Zuma had to comply with a party decision to cooperate with the commission of inquiry.