Editorial: Jacob Zuma, no special rules

2020-02-09 14:41

The Pietermaritzburg High Court has stirred up a hornet’s nest by questioning a medical note submitted by former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers and by subsequently deciding to issue a warrant of arrest, which has been stayed until the next court appearance.

The court was not convinced by the note, which had date alterations and was vague.

Latent Zuma supporters, who have been lying low for a while now, were galvanised to issue a cacophony of similar press statements about how courts had humiliated Zuma and how he had fought for freedom but was now treated as if he were an outcast.

They accused the courts of abusing their power to target Zuma.

Amid the anger and outrage, a few things are being missed. One is that it is the work of the courts to interrogate whatever evidence is placed before them.

They have a responsibility to ask questions about documents in front of them. The medical note has since been made public and it is obvious that it is open to many questions.

And, second, the warrant of arrest was stayed: This means it is not active and Zuma cannot be arrested as soon as his whereabouts are known.

All it means is that Zuma has to present himself at the next court appearance on May 6 and the warrant will be waived.

Upset Zuma sycophants accused the high court of doubting whether Zuma was really sick, which is not what Judge Dhaya Pillay said.

She was merely requesting proper medical documents, which would be expected from anyone else, whether it be in court, at work or for missing an exam.

But, even if the outrage was real, we have to wonder whether the outpouring had anything to do with internal ANC dynamics.

Those who professed themselves upset were mainly from the same crowd that supported Zuma in the past and were suspicious of Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascendancy to president.

We advise them to remember that courts are not political playgrounds. If there is unhappiness with outcomes, the courts know the appeal/review processes that should be followed.

We all have the right to like a particular leader – but we are equally expected to respect the Constitution and the independence of the judiciary.

Take politics to the appropriate arenas and leave the courts out of imagined conspiracies.

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March 29 2020