Jacob Zuma’s Waterloo

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Jacob Zuma’s arrogant request for Deputy Chief Justice to recuse himself from the commission of inquiry is not only legally absurd but politically preposterous. Zuma has over the past 15 years played poker with the legal system, played chess with various legal challenges, and now is attempting to play roulette with Judge Zondo.

His Stalingrad defence has been thoroughly breached. As a last resort, he is trying to build a “Maginot Line”. A last-ditch stand will be his Waterloo.

Zuma’s legal team can learn from Judge 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 self-importance or arrogance.

He has a commendable grasp of legal principles across a broad cross-section of the law. His record demonstrates that when adjudicating cases, he has no judicial timidity and applies the law as he sees it.

Judge Zondo has during this complicated and revealing inquiry, displayed judicial temperament, showing patience, open-mindedness, courtesy, tact, courage, punctuality firmness, understanding, compassion, humility and common sense.

Over 2400 years ago, Socrates gave his well known 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 Justice Raymond Zondo. He is indeed a brave jurist with an incisive and independent mind.

Zuma’s entire legal team must be acutely aware of this. A judiciary that is alert and checks any transgressions of the limitations of powers often faces the allegation of being “biased or predatory”.

Alexander Hamilton, once wrote that the judiciary is the least dangerous branch 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.

Many have extolled Justice Zondo for his contributions, character and courtcraft. The political thinker, Edmund Burke, said that judges are trained so that they can detect misgovernment, and especially the ”sniff” the approach of tyranny in every political breeze.

This is the kind of court and judge we have in DCJ, Justice Zondo. Jacob Zuma, is a drowning man, yelling for help, by puncturing his life jacket, history has proven time and again, that the truth will ultimately prevail over falsehoods. Never in our recorded history has one person usurped, maligned and abused our legal system in such a colossal cost to the taxpayer.

Opinion piece by Farouk Araie.