S/Africa: ‘Zuma to blame for own imprisonment’ – Madonsela

South Africa's former ombudsman, Thuli Madonsela, whose scathing report fingered former President Jacob Zuma's regime as being under “state capture,”…

South Africa’s former ombudsman, Thuli Madonsela, whose scathing report fingered former President Jacob Zuma’s regime as being under “state capture,” on Wednesday blamed the embattled ex-leader’s misconduct for leading him into his current misfortunes that have landed him in imprisonment.The former Public Protector said this in reaction to Tuesday’s Constitutional Court ruling that sentenced the 79-year-old Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after he several times defied calls to attend hearing by the Commission of Inquiry on State Capture as a witness.

Madonsela said the public institutions had bent backwards to accommodate Zuma to avoid this situation, giving him many chances to engage the relevant stakeholders regarding his pending cases. 

But Zuma remained defiant, with his claims of the courts being biased against him politically and personally, even after the apex court ordered him to return to the witness stand at the inquiry commission which is probing state capture during his nine years at the presidency.

“We have to have a heart of stone not to feel sorry for the former president given the fact that he has to go to jail at his age,” Madonsela said. 

She added: “That he has been singled out? No, that is not the case. I think the courts have been bending a little bit backwards to meet him where he is.”

It was Madonsela’s state capture report that recommended the formation of the current Commission of Inquiry on State Capture which was, ironically, authorised by Zuma himself to be instituted before he left the presidency.

Reacting to Zuma’s sentencing, commission chairman Raymond Zondo said the Constitutional Court’s decision reaffirmed the supremacy of the country’s Constitution. 

However, Zuma’s son, Edward, said his father would only go to prison over his “dead body.”

 “As Edward Zuma, I will lay down my life for President Zuma. They are not going to take him to prison when I’m still alive. They will have to kill me first. I insist on that,” he said.

Another group of Zuma’s supporters, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), also vowed to flock to Nkandla Village to stop the security authorities from arresting Zuma.

MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe alleged that Zuma’s rights have been undermined and the Constitutional Court justices were not impartial.

“We want the transformation of the judiciary so that it will be impartial. It doesn’t mean the view of the majority is always correct,” Maphatsoe said.

Zuma, who had vowed to go to jail than return to the witness stand of the inquiry commission, has five days to report to police on his way to prison, the court ruled on Tuesday.

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