President Jacob Zuma is facing yet another fresh legal battle in the Constitutional Court as the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) accused him of failing to fulfill his constitutional obligations by not signing the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill, known as the Fica bill.
The Fica Bill was passed by Parliament in May 2016 and submitted fo the president to sign on June 13, but the Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said on Monday that Zuma has neither signed the bill nor referred it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration
“He has neither assented to and signed the bill, nor referred it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration based on any reservations he may have about its constitutionality, as is required by section 79(1) of the Constitution,” he explained.
This comes at the time Zuma is being roasted for being implicated in advocate Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report which further fueled calls for his immediate resignation as SA president.
Casac charges against Zuma also follows growing rumour that the President would be charged in court for violating the country’s Executive Ethics Act in his relationship with the Guptas.
In its founding affidavit filed on Friday, Casac said Zuma had failed to fulfill his constitutional obligations by delaying his assent to the Fica bill after receiving it in June.
The council, through its executive secretary Lawson Naidoo, is seeking a declaration from the highest court that Zuma failed to comply with the Constitution’s obligations by not signing the bill, or referring it to back to the National Assembly for reconsideration of “identified reservations”.
The bill was to be passed to remedy deficiencies in the Fica Act in order to strengthen regulatory and statutory anti-money laundering measures and to combat terrorism financing and Naidoo is asking the constitutional court to direct Zuma to comply with his constitutional obligations in relation to the bill.
Meanwhile, President Zuma said he is not afraid of going to jail- a place where most citizens want him to end up after the end of his administration as SA president.
Zuma told supporters on Saturday he wasn’t scared to go to prison because he had been jailed during apartheid.
“I’m not afraid of jail. I’ve been to jail during the struggle,” Zuma told a cheering crowd in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Zuma spent 10 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela during white-minority rule.
“There’s no longer any space for democratic debate. The only space there is for court arguments by lawyers. That’s not democracy,” Zuma said, referring to the 355-page probe which opposition politicians have called on him to face the criminal charges.
The court charges will not be the first for Zuma who since taking office in 2009, had overcome several corruption scandals with the backing of top echelons of the ruling African National Congress.