Carl Niehaus: Serial liar. Picture: Business Day/Thulani Mbele
Carl Niehaus: Serial liar. Picture: Business Day/Thulani Mbele

There’s something eerily similar about the periodically orphaned Carl Niehaus and the Trump supporters who still gather to protest against the "rigged US election".

It’s not just the immunity from reason they have in common, it’s that they pretend to take a point of principle when they’re doing something far more mundane: bluntly refusing to accept the law.

In Niehaus’s case, he’s defending former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to defy a summons and a Constitutional Court order to appear at the Zondo commission as a witness. Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has asked the Constitutional Court to order Zuma’s imprisonment, if it finds him guilty of contempt of court.

To Niehaus, this is an infringement of Zuma’s right to simply opt out of the legal system. If you’re looking for the embodiment of the phrase "defending the indefensible", think Niehaus in an ill-fitting camo outfit, mouthing off as if he’s quaffed one too many jars of ivermectin.

This week, Niehaus said: "We are Zuma, and Zuma is us." So he is happy to be joined to the criminal charges Zuma is facing over the arms deal? Even though, when that deal was done, his mother hadn’t even died the first time.

In a TV interview this week, Niehaus tied himself in knots arguing that it would be wrong to force Zuma to "actually explain" why he is invoking the right to remain silent, as he’ll have to "declare what he is concerned about".

Niehaus is deceiving people: Zuma isn’t the accused in a criminal trial for which he could claim "silence"; he’s a witness subpoenaed to a commission he established.

Max du Preez, Vrye Weekblad editor, says Niehaus is what you get when you mix a Calvinist with a communist, and feed him only populism. Rebecca Davis in the Daily Maverick says "asking Niehaus anything is like interrogating sand", considering his flair for fibbing. His travelling "radical economic transformation" circus is is a snug fit for all those ideals.

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