Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma is in court for a second time this week for allegedly acting in breach of his duty as President of South Africa by wilfully refusing to act in accordance with section 83(b) of the Constitution which enjoins him to“uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic.” This time President Zuma is before the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) with the view to having the judgement handed down by the North Gauteng High Court set aside.
The Court originally held that “there are clear indications that the order of Sunday, June 15 2015 was not complied with. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function if the government ignores its constitutional obligations.”
We contend therefore that the principles in question were directly contravened by the Executive, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, when they facilitated the escape of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from South Africa on 15 June 2015.
al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), under two warrants issued in 2009 and 2010 respectively, for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, enacted into domestic law through the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act of 2002, the South African government had a legal obligation under both international and domestic law to arrest Al Bashir.
That the President now seeks to tell the people of South Africa that allowing the alleged warlord into our democratic country was consistent with our Constitution is an insult to the principles of contained in the Bill of Rights we hold dear which has unfortunately become indicative of the contempt the President Zuma and his government have demonstrated for the Rule of Law.
This is second such time this week alone the President has been embroiled in a legal scandal first of which was at the Constitutional Court regarding the Nkandlagate debacle.
Incidentally, at his eighth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night the President did not take note or apologise for the vexatious abuse of our justice system for his own undue political interests which, while unsurprising, is very concerning considering that the supremacy of the Constitution and respect for the Rule of Law as the bedrock of our democratic state.
In any event, we are pleased that the courts seem to be taking a principled legal stand on flagrant abuses of power and disregard for due process and the Rule of Law. We equally hope that the SCA will confirm the High Court’s determination and provide further legal certainty that this will not happen in future.