South Africa


Zuma sentence hailed, ANC calls for calm before NEC meeting, MKMVA’s Niehaus believes ConCourt abused Constitution

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Pool)
By Suné Payne
29 Jun 2021 15

Nobody — including a former president — is above the law. This was the unanimous view of many after the Constitutional Court convicted and sentenced former president Jacob Zuma for contempt on Tuesday. However, his supporters say the law is being ‘abused for factional reasons’.

Tuesday, 29 June was “arguably the big day for orange overalls in South Africa”, said David Lewis, the executive director of Corruption Watch during a media briefing by the Defend Our Democracy campaign. 

The briefing was held after the Constitutional Court’s ruling which found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court after he defied a summons to appear before the Zondo Commission. 

Read Daily Maverick’s report on the court hearing here:

ConCourt finds Jacob Zuma guilty of ‘unprecedented’ contempt, seals sanction with 15-month jail sentence

Lady Justice thunders at Zuma as former head of state sentenced to 15 months without option of an appeal 

Zuma was ordered to present himself at a police station for transfer to a correctional facility within five days, to begin his 15-month jail sentence. 

Lewis described the judgment as “a wonderful lesson in what democracy in South Africa is”. 

Other speakers at the briefing, including Struggle veteran Rev Frank Chikane, said Defend Our Democracy “welcomed” the judgment, but that it did not enjoy seeing anyone go to jail. All of this, said Chikane, could have been avoided if Zuma had cooperated.

Chikane said the ruling “gives hope” to the country. 

Elsewhere, Shenilla Mohamed, executive director at Amnesty International, said in a statement: “The judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court in the contempt of court matter is an important development for the rule of law. It is a reminder that no one is above the law, no matter who they are or their social or political status.” 

A statement issued by the Zondo Commission welcomed the judgment. 

“The Commission views the judgment as one of great importance for the rule of law, the principle of equality before the law, the primacy of our Constitution and the protection of our constitutional democracy.” 

The statement said the ruling was significant for the independence of the judiciary. “In the Commission’s view, the judgment sends a profoundly important message to all in our country, that there are serious consequences for anyone who defies summonses and orders of courts and that such conduct will not be tolerated, no matter what the person’s status is in society.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said via social media that it was studying the judgment and would release a statement once Zuma had “received legal advice”. 

The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) said it was “outraged by the entirely unjustifiable and unjust” sentence handed down to Zuma. 

“We fully concur with the president [Zuma] that he is unjustly being targeted, and that the law is being abused for factional political reasons. 

“As President Zuma had stated, he was one of the most prominent liberation fighters and ANC political leaders who gave his all for our current national Constitution to be adopted, and he cannot allow now that the very same Constitution is being abused,” read the statement issued by the group’s spokesperson, Carl Niehaus. 

The MKMVA said it would oppose Zuma’s imprisonment “as a matter of legal, political and revolutionary principle”. The MKMVA was recently disbanded by the ANC, but the group is fighting the move.

Read in Daily Maverick: MKMVA vows to defy ANC’s disbandment decision

Speaking on SABC on Tuesday afternoon, Niehaus said people should protest and “not allow President Jacob Zuma to be arrested and imprisoned”. 

Niehaus then made a startling claim: the new alert Level 4 regulations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday were imposed as a “direct intention to curb the unrest that was going to happen”. Niehaus offered no evidence of this, except to say the regulations were rushed through.

Meanwhile, the ANC said it noted the judgment and that it would “reflect on implications and consequences of the judgement” during a meeting of the National Executive Committee this weekend. The party urged its supporters to remain calm during this “difficult” moment for the party.  

“We further reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rule of law and fulfilling the aspirations of our constitutional democracy,” said the party. DM


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All Comments 15

  • Can someone,me please,kindly put a sock in that idiot Niehaus’s mouth. I volunteer to be in arresting party of this thieving hooligan Jacob Zuma who has destroyed the future of countless South Africans in his greed and stupidity.

  • The press is giving this buffoon Carl Niehaus far too much of a stage.
    He is a nobody. His opinion is absolutely irrelevant. He use to be mildly entertaining because he gets so worked up trying to explain his nonsensical points but enough is enough.
    Let him fade into oblivion.

  • If we are going to give Carl valuable exposure we should also publish the opinion of my favourite petrol attendant, his opinion carries as much weight in the bigger scheme plus he is gainfully employed and pays tax.

  • Right now, more South Africans are dying at a faster rate than ever before because of Covid. And here we have Niehaus politicising the pandemic in the most egregious way possible, actually belittling the seriousness of the contagion. Spreading disinformation – fake news – about Covid is a crime here in South Africa. Niehaus must be arrested.

  • So now Carl Niehaus is claiming to be an expert on the constitution!! When did this happen, or was he indoctrinated by Zuma and Magashule?

  • By definition the ConCourt cannot abuse the Constitution because the ConCourt ‘s interpretation of the Constitution is what it is.

  • Zuma is nothing without a mob clamouring behind him, hence the first response is “summon the mob to defend him”. Niehaus, is like the court jester, a windbag with nothing of substance to contribute to our national issues. It is a tragedy that it came to this; however, Zuma’s taunts and bluster finally came back to bite him which makes all this his own doing. Now that he will get his day in jail, perhaps he will also get his day in court for corruption.

  • Is there anyone dumb enough left to believe anything that the MKMVA says ? Apparently yes !! Niehaus it seems, is clutching at straws for seemingly personal reasons. His credibility is shot to pieces. I do not understand why anyone including the press give him any airtime. But he does provide humour as the below commentator suggests !!

  • Far too much coverage, even overseas, he must be arrested for all his subversive rhetoric. He is a nobody, but right up there as suspect no1, together with his allies.