The Jesuit Institute South Africa, the South African Council of Churches and the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference have all welcomed the ruling made against South African President Jacob Zuma in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
In a statement reacting to the court’s ruling, the Jesuit Institute slammed Mr Zuma saying that he had “done nothing else but deceive and abuse the country’s judicial system to prevent this important commission from being set up”.
The institute hailed the ruling as a “landmark judgment” and a “victory for the people of South Africa, the former public protector and the Dominicans who initiated this investigation”.
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), also welcomed the ruling. He urged the president “not to extend the litigation through an appeal against this ruling. Even though he may be legally entitled to that, it is not the ethically correct thing to do.”
The Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference (SACBC) spokesperson, Archbishop William Slattery, said the Church applauded the “former Public Protector and the High Court in finally ferreting out a means to arrive at the truth. The president well deserves to pay costs, and the Catholic Church feels that he can do so.”
President Zuma ignored recommendations made by former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela that a commission of inquiry be setup to investigate State Capture. He objected to her recommendation that a judge, appointed by the chief justice, Moegeng Moegeng, be appointed. “President Zuma, who did not cooperate with the public protector’s investigation, objected to the instruction. He arrogantly argued that only he, as president, has the power to make such decisions,” the Jesuit Institute said.
Slattery said that Zuma’s behaviour was a “disgrace” and that he wasted “time and money” playing around with the “South African people and the courts for such a long time before finally been led to justice”.
Bishop Mpumlwana said that the SACC was “very concerned about the failure of Government to act in the best interests of the public. Instead there seems to be a greater commitment to protect the personal interests of the president.” He also said that the SACC was “appalled at the failure of Government to appreciate that the President cannot act on matters that affect him directly.” Quoting Judge Dunstan Mlambo’s ruling, the SACC said that to second-guess the public protector was “indeed reckless” and that “recklessness is letting evil abound in the State”.
Madonsela issued her “State of Capture” report in November 2016. It detailed allegations of an improper relationship between Mr Zuma, state officials and the Gupta family who are in business with the president’s son, Duduzane Zuma.
The Jesuit Institute commended the Dominicans in South Africa for approaching the public protector “in the interest of truth and the common good” to investigate state capture. The Institute said that the Dominicans were the first complainants to approach Adv Madonsela after they “had become increasingly aware of the growing allegations that South Africa’s hard-fought democracy was being eroded by those who were supposed to protect it, including the president and other state officials close to him”.
The Institute called on the ANC “to act decisively against its president who has not only damaged the party’s reputation but also abused the country’s justice system and caused harm to the nation”.
Mr Zuma “has proved…that he does not have the integrity to lead. He is a compromised man whose dishonesty is a burden to South Africa. He is dangerous because he is either ignorant of the law or chooses, deliberately, to snub the law. He and his cronies can no longer be shielded,” the Jesuit Institute said.
Bishop Mpumlwana urged that the “crimes committed in the corrupt shenanigans of State Capture must be prosecuted without delay”.
The Institute said that “South Africans can be proud of our judiciary which has never failed to hold those who are meant to serve the people of the country accountable when leadership have shown, over and over, that they have no intention of being honest or of service.” SA.