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Amabutho arrives at Nkandla to show their support to former president Jacob Zuma. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Amabutho arrives at Nkandla to show their support to former president Jacob Zuma. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU

The  Constitutional Court’s  contempt of court ruling against former president Jacob Zuma has divided society. Yet the issue is not Zuma but the far-reaching implications of the judgment for our law; the doctrine of judicial precedent.

The majority of the Constitutional Court judges presided coldly as impersonal guardians of our constitution. But they neglected to have regard to the Bill of Rights and weigh up the conflict caused by different values and balance them against the requirements of society as a whole.

What would the state-capture commission do should others disobey its subpoena in solidarity with Zuma? Clearly, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo would flood the apex court with such cases, for the absurd precedent he set has transformed the top court into a court of first instance.

It doesn’t make legal sense that the commission approached the high court when it sought an extension to continue with its work, but runs to the apex court when it cannot resolve a dispute before it. What stopped it from approaching the former to enforce a subpoena and commence a trial, since a criminal complaint was active with the police?

Surely Zuma wasn’t mistaken in believing Zondo would put friendship before justice to treat him differently, because he abandoned the complaint to petition the apex court like a blindfold figure of justice. As a result of this misjudgment we’re now faced with a political crisis that may escalate into conflict.

Morgan Phaahla

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