South Africa's former president is warned to appear in court

FILE  In this Nov. 17, 2020 file photo former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at a hearing for his application for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to recuse himself from the state capture commission of inquiry, in Johannesburg, South Africa. A legal showdown is looming in the country where Zuma is refusing to obey court orders to testify at a judicial inquiry into corruption charges against him. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe/File)
FILE In this Nov. 17, 2020 file photo former South African President Jacob Zuma appears at a hearing for his application for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to recuse himself from the state capture commission of inquiry, in Johannesburg, South Africa. A legal showdown is looming in the country where Zuma is refusing to obey court orders to testify at a judicial inquiry into corruption charges against him. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe/File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JOHANNESBURG – A legal showdown is looming in South Africa where former president Jacob Zuma is refusing to obey court orders to testify at a judicial inquiry into corruption charges against him.

Zuma has been warned that he is not above the law after he publicly stated that he intends to defy a court order to appear at the inquiry.

It is a test of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa will be able to follow up on his promises to take decisive action against pervasive corruption.

Deep divisions in the ruling party, the African National Congress, have been exposed as the party's secretary-general Ace Magashule has voiced his support of Zuma.

“Just leave comrade Zuma alone. President Zuma is a South African. He has his own rights,” Magashule said Wednesday when asked by the press about Zuma saying he will defy the commission and the Constitutional Court.

Zuma already faces a criminal charge for failing to testify at a commission hearing last month and further action will be taken against Zuma if he fails to honor a scheduled appearance this month, according to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission.

“It seems that Mr. Zuma considers himself to be above the law and the Constitution. The commission reiterates that in terms of the Constitution everyone is equal before the law,” Zondo said in a statement, issued this week.

Zuma is a central figure in allegations of widespread corruption when he was president from 2009 to 2018, when his governing African National Congress party forced him to step down because of growing allegations of graft.