Jacob Zuma. Picture: SIMON MATHEBULA
Jacob Zuma. Picture: SIMON MATHEBULA

Jacob Zuma’s arrogant request that the deputy chief justice recuse himself from the state-capture inquiry, is not only legally absurd but politically preposterous. Over the past 15 years, Zuma has played poker with the legal system, played chess with various legal challenges, and is now attempting to play roulette with judge Raymond Zondo.

Zuma’s “Stalingrad defence” has been thoroughly breached. As a last resort he is attempting to build a “Maginot Line”. However, his last ditch stand could be his Waterloo.

Zuma’s legal team can learn from Zondo’s quiet dignity, his temperate disposition, his passionate commitment to justice, his unfailing fairness, his humanity and humility in wearing the privilege and power of high judicial office without ever succumbing to pomposity or arrogance. He has a  commendable grasp of legal principles across a wide cross-section of the law. His record demonstrates clearly that when adjudicating cases he has no judicial timidity and applies the law as he sees it.

More than 2,400 years ago, Socrates gave his iconic description of the essential qualities of a good judge. “Four things belong to a judge. To hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially”. These are the supreme qualities of Zondo. He is a brave jurist with an incisive and independent mind.

Alexander Hamilton once wrote that the judiciary is the least dangerous branch of the state because it has neither the sword nor the purse. Acts of commission or omission by the judiciary have consequences more far reaching than most may realise. A judiciary of undisputed integrity is the bedrock institution essential for ensuring compliance with democracy and the rule of law.

Farouk Araie, Johannesburg

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