Dominicans in South Africa Term High Court Ruling against President Zuma “a victory for the people”
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 14 December 2017
The Dominicans in South Africa have expressed support for the High Court ruling against President Jacob Zuma’s attempt to block his being investigated for corruption terming the judgement “landmark” and “victory for the people.”
On Wednesday, December 13, President Zuma lost a corruption-related court case when the High Court in Pretoria gave him 30 days to set up inquiry into state capture and to personally pay the costs of his failed attempt to block the release of the report.
“The landmark judgement handed down by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday is a victory for the people of South Africa, the former public protector and the Dominicans who initiated this investigation,” the Dominicans have stated in a press release shared with CANAA.
During the ruling, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo described Zuma as reckless and an abuser of the judicial process who showed disregard for the constitutional duties of the Public Protector.
“In 2015 the Dominicans in South Africa (an order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church founded by St. Dominic in 1216) were the first complainants to approach the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, requesting that she investigate State Capture,” the Dominicans’ press statement begins.
President Zuma launched the application on the eve of the release of the report last year on grounds that he had not been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him.
At the same time, the Catholic Church leadership in South Africa has also expressed support for the High Court ruling and described the judgement as having been long overdue.
The spokesperson of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria made known the Catholic Church leaders’ sentiments in a statement shared with CANAA on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
“What a waste of time and money, what a disgrace for the president should play around with the South African people and the courts for such a long time before finally been led to justice,” Archbishop Slattery said.
“We applaud the former Public Protector and the High Court in finally ferreting out a means to arrive at the truth,” Archbishop Slattery said on behalf of the Catholic Church leadership and added, “The President well deserves to pay costs and the Catholic feels that he can do so.”
Below is the press statement by the Dominicans in South Africa
DISHONESTY: SOUTH AFRICA’S BURDEN
14 December 2017
Responding to the North Gauteng High Court Ruling against President Jacob Zuma
In 2015 the Dominicans in South Africa (an order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church founded by St. Dominic in 1216) were the first complainants to approach the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, requesting that she investigate State Capture. The Dominicans 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.
Advocate Madonsela, responding to the complainants, launched an investigation. Her report recommended that a judicial inquiry be appointed, headed by a judge, because the president was conflicted.
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. He said that he would take the report on review. He has since then, done nothing else but deceive and abuse the country’s judicial system to prevent this important commission from being set up.
The landmark judgement handed down by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday is a victory for the people of South Africa, the former public protector and the Dominicans who initiated this investigation. Judge Dunstan Mlambo said that the remedial action ordered by Advocate Madonsela was “reasonable, rational and appropriate.”
Judge Mlambo further confirmed the complainant’s suspicions saying that the president had a “personal conflict” and this presents an “insurmountable obstacle for [him] and lends credence” to the public protector’s recommendation. He also said that the president’s review application was a “non-starter and the president was seriously reckless in pursuing it as he has done.” He said that the president was “ill-advised” and “had no justifiable basis to simply ignore the impact of corruption on the South African public.” It was precisely the impact of corruption on ordinary South Africans, especially the poor, that led the Dominicans to request an investigation.
In his judgement Mlambo said that President Zuma’s conduct “falls far short of the expectation on him as the head of state to support institutions of democracy.” The complainants concern, therefore, that South Africa’s democracy is not in safe and trustworthy hands and is being undermined is a reality that needs to be investigated.
Zuma’s refusal to cooperate with the law and follow the recommendations of the public protector reveals yet again that he has respect neither for his office nor the people of South Africa. Judge Mlambo noted that he had “an opportunity to confront and address the problem” but failed to do so.
The judgement in the high court damningly said that President Zuma was “vindicating his personal interest when initiating this litigation,” and ordered that Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s remedial actions be upheld. The Jesuit Institute supports the court’s decision and agrees that this must be done so that a credible investigation can be carried out.
The Jesuit Institute South Africa commends the complainants for approaching the public protector in the interest of truth and the common good, key principles in Catholic Social Teaching.
The Institute further commends the judiciary for being a courageous moral compass. 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.
We have noted the ANC’s response to the judgement and call on the party, once and for all, 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. President Jacob Zuma has proved, once again, 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.