ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has sought to clarify his views in support of former president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, saying he respects the Constitution and the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
“I made it clear that in terms of the Constitution of South Africa, president Zuma has his own rights as an individual within the context of the Constitution. And I’ve never said that people must ignore the Constitution of the country,” Magashule told Newzroom Afrika on Thursday.
Magashule has been criticised for his remarks after Zuma said this week he would defy a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling compelling him to appear before the commission this month.
Magashule on Wednesday told the media “don’t worry too much about the Constitution” when asked about Zuma’s recent declaration that he intends to defy the ConCourt.
Magashule slammed calls by those calling for the removal of Zuma from the governing party, saying Zuma had done nothing wrong.
“What has Zuma done now? Just leave comrade Zuma alone. President Zuma is a South African. He has his own rights,” Magashule said, speaking on the sidelines of a visit to the Soweto home of the late anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Rebecca Kotane.
He told Newzroom Afrika that expressing a different opinion about the judiciary didn’t mean that he disrespected the Constitution and the commission.
“I’ve said differing with judges doesn’t actually show any disrespect in a democratic South Africa. And I made it very clear that these are some of the ANC internal matters that will be discussed by the ANC,” he said.
Magashule told the channel that the ANC would engage with Zuma on his stance against the commission.
The inquiry’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Monday instructed the secretary of the commission to open a case against Zuma for failing to appear before the commission in January.
“As to whether we will meet with president Zuma, leave it to the ANC because the leader of the ANC, president Ramaphosa and all of us, we will do what we are supposed to do in terms of engaging from time to time different members of the ANC,” Magashule said.
Magashule also said he believed that Zuma, like any other South African, had rights that should be respected.
“I respect the Constitution, I respect the Zondo commission, I respect all institutions. And where we have differences with such institutions one will express his or her view, and that doesn’t mean its disrespect for the Constitution,” he said.