The Constitutional Court has dismissed the application by former president Jacob Zuma to rescind its 29 June judgment which found him guilty of contempt of court. The court delivered the judgment virtually on Friday.
Zuma approached the Constitutional Court after it had sentenced him to an imprisonment term of 15 months for defying its earlier order compelling him to appear before the Zondo commission to answer to allegations of his part in state capture by several witnesses. The apex court justices arrived at three judgments, with the majority led by Justice Sisi Khampepe.
“I should explain that of course, while an order of the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed, our law does make provision for an order, even one of the Constitutional Court, to be rescinded in narrow circumstances where, for example, it can be proven that the order was made in the party’s absence and that an error was made by the court that granted it,” Khampepe said, reading out the judgment.
It was on these two bases that Zuma brought forward his application. But Khampepe said Zuma’s absence at the time the ruling of contempt was made was of his own doing, as he had been given ample time to address the charges against him as brought forward by the secretary of the commission in its application.
“Elected absence, like that of Mr Zuma, constitutes more than litigious skulduggery, which does not have the effect of turning a competently granted order into one erroneously granted. It is quite simply not for these sorts of circumstances that the law of rescission caters.
“The majority of the Constitutional court finds that Mr Zuma has not met the statutory requirements of a rescission,” said Khampepe.
She added that Zuma also failed to show how the order was erroneously granted. “An applicant must show that the judgment against which the rescission is sought was erroneously granted because there existed a fact of which the court was unaware at the time which would have precluded the granting of the judgment had the court been aware of it.
“Not only does his application lack prospects, all of his submissions having already been disposed of, he has failed to provide a plausible and acceptable explanation for his default. That he may have taken issue with the profile of the commission is of no moment, and allegations of bias in respect of its chairperson cannot justify his absence from proceedings in the Constitutional Court.”
Zuma was ordered to pay the legal costs of the commission in the matter.