Cope LogoCongress of the People will defend our prized and internationally admired Constitution whatever it takes. Our society will exist successfully only if the Constitution remains intact and fully functional. That is why we place such great store by it. Together with millions of others we will never allow our country to become a banana republic. Zuma is suspected of committing nearly 800 criminal offences. This is being broadcast internationally by CNN, BBC and numerous other TV channels. It harms the image of our country enormously. We must not allow this matter to drag on forever.

Zuma cannot be president while he is a suspected criminal. He must stand trial and answer the charges against him. If he is innocent he will have nothing to fear. Our judiciary is remarkably good in upholding the rule of law.

COPE fully understands the ANC’s unwillingness to submit to the demands of the opposition that Zuma should go. Now, however, an opportunity arises for the ANC to take the lead in allowing the charges to be tested in court. There should be no long drawn out legal battles at the taxpayers’ expense. Our taxes were never meant to be squandered on endless cases defending one man suspected of committing many crimes. Yesterday’s challenge by the DA in the North Gauteng High Court will have set the South African taxpayer millions of rand. Why should the financial burden be ours?

The ANC must ensure that the NPA reinstates the charges and that Zuma faces up to the 783 charges against him. The homework has already been done. Zuma cannot remain as South Africa’s biggest suspected criminal and be president of the country at the same time.

Decency and rule of law demand that he should have his day in court.

Plato, the renowned Greek philosopher, recorded the incident of a son discovering that his father had murdered and buried their farm labourer. After an anguished night tossing and turning in bed, he reported his father to the authorities in the morning. Having courageously discharged his duty as a citizen, he then strove to defend his father out of his duty as a son. The ANC, likewise, must serve South Africa and the Constitution first and thereafter it can support its leader at its own cost to mount a legal defence, not at the cost of the taxpayers.

COPE has suspended its participation in parliament until clarity obtains on how to proceed lawfully and correctly in keeping with the decision of the Constitutional Court handed down on 31 March 2016. In our view Zuma and the ANC caucus are still acting in contempt of court and refusing to give full and meaningful effect to the judgment of the Constitutional Court.

We cannot allow ourselves to be legitimizing Zuma after that decision. Yesterday’s decision further fortifies our resolve to stand up for the full application of the rule of law. Now that the way is cleared for the NPA to reinstate all charges against Zuma, the ANC must do the right thing and let Zuma have his day in court at his or the ANC’s cost.

By Dennis Bloem

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