Jacob Zuma’s allegations against former comrades and friends, while attempting to portray himself as the victim of a massive political conspiracy at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture yesterday, had better stand up to scrutiny or he could find himself in serious trouble with the law.
Several political and media heavyweights’ names were invoked yesterday, as having allegedly been in on the conspiracy to tarnish Zuma’s image.
So far, former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has denied Zuma’s claims that he was a former apartheid spy, challenging the former president to a public polygraph test to establish the truth of his claims.
The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has also denied Zuma’s claims that he was introduced to the Gupta family by former president Thabo Mbeki who, he said under oath, was friends with the controversial family.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula, who is in London, refused to comment on Zuma’s claims that he spoke about a threat billionaire businessperson Johann Rupert made during a meeting that the rand would collapse if he fired then finance minister, Pravin Gordhan.
Meanwhile, broadcast journalist and author Redi Tlhabi said she did not see a need to respond, at this stage, to Zuma’s testimony that she was producing a movie, which he said was titled Raped by Power, as part of the master plan to tarnish his image.
Procedural law expert Dr Llewelyn Curlewis said perjury was a serious criminal offence under the South African Criminal Procedure Act and the court could impose a fine or jail time of between one and 10 years. He said this was dependent on the seriousness of the perjury and how many times it was repeated.
“Perjury is a serious offence and any person fund guilty of perjury could face serious consequences.
“If the perjury is serious enough and consistent, then that person is liable for a prison term. Lying under oath is taking a serious risk,” he said.
North West University’s political scientist, Professor Andre Duvenhage, said he would not put lying past Zuma because he has done it before, several times, and in parliament.
“I would not be surprised because he has done it before. Although we do not know if there is any truth that Ramatlhodi, who was once his minister, was a spy, there have been reports that many of the current ANC leaders were in fact apartheid spies,” he said.
In November 2012, Zuma told parliament he was financing his Nkandla homestead by means of a bond but a City Press investigation could find no bond registered over the Nkandla property.
At the time, Corruption Watch charged that although lying in parliament was not the same as perjury or contempt of court – crimes only in the context of judicial proceedings – lying to parliament may amount to fraud.
Duvenhage said Zuma would do anything to waste time so that he does not get to answer difficult questions about his role in the state capture scandal.
However, he said Zuma’s political game, playing victim and making wild claims under oath to avoid answering difficult questions, could hurt him.
Duvenhage said the National Prosecuting Authority already had answers to the difficult questions Zuma is trying to avoid by playing victim, making political statements and shocking claims of a plot to assassinate him.
“He wants to get out as easy as possible, without answering difficult questions,” said Duvenhage.