Zuma Leaves Sentencing Fate to South Africa’s Top Court

Former South African President Jacob Zuma rejected a request by the nation’s top court to file an affidavit suggesting what sanction he should face if it finds him guilty of contempt for defying its order to testify before a panel that’s probing graft during his rule.

In a letter written to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, a copy of which was supplied to Bloomberg by the Constitutional Court’s registrar, Zuma accused the court of bias, treating him unfairly and failing to follow correct procedures.

“I cannot assist the courts to violate my constitutional rights by telling them what kind of punishment they must impose,” Zuma wrote. “I have accepted that my stance has consequences and I am of the view that the Constitutional Court already knows what ruling it will make.”

The government estimates that more than 500 billion rand ($35 billion) was stolen from state coffers during Zuma’s nine-year rule, crimes that are being investigated by a panel headed by Mogoeng’s deputy, Raymond Zondo. While dozens of witnesses who’ve appeared before the panel have implicated Zuma in aiding and abetting the looting spree, he has denied wrongdoing and says the allegations are part of a smear campaign.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Jan. 28 that Zuma, 79, must appear before the panel and answer its questions. Zuma said he’d had a close personal relationship with Zondo and refused, promoting the panel to ask the court to find him guilty of contempt and jail him for two years.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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