Days of Zondo

Zondo Commission confirms Zuma request for questions-first approach will not be entertained

By Jessica Bezuidenhout 20 June 2019
Caption
Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears in court during his ongoing corruption case held at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 30 November 2018. EPA-EFE/ROGAN WARD / POOL

The State Capture Commission is weighing up its options in respect of former President Jacob Zuma’s reluctance to avail himself for the witness stand in July.

The Zondo Commission released a brief statement on Thursday afternoon in which it said Zuma and his lawyers have thus far failed to provide an undertaking that he will appear before the commission for five days between July 15 and July 19.

Zuma has requested that he be furnished with a list of questions that he may be asked during such an appearance before agreeing to it.

Reads the commission’s statement: “The Commission maintains that Mr Zuma is not entitled to insist that he be furnished with the questions in advance of his appearance before he can consider whether to give the undertaking (to appear).”

It takes the position that that it is enough that he has been told that he will be afforded an opportunity to state his side of the story in response to what certain identified witnesses have said in their statements or affidavits or evidence about him.”

The dates for Zuma’s intended appearance was scheduled as far back as 30 April 2019 to allow the former president to present his version to claims by various witnesses who have implicated him.

Those include former government spokesman Themba Maseka, Vytjie Mentor, Nhlanhla Nene, Pravin Gordhan, Barbara Hogan, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Fikile Mbalula and Samuel Muofhe.

Between these witnesses, Zuma was accused of, among other things, putting pressure on Cabinet ministers to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Russians for a nuclear deal; offering a vital post in the security cluster, that of the National Director of Public Prosecutions, to an advocate with five years of experience; calling Maseko to help the controversial Gupta family clinch government advertising deals, and of being present when the Guptas allegedly offered Mentor a ministerial post.

The Commission’s statement said it was currently “reflecting” on the fact that six weeks have passed since Zuma was asked for the undertaking to appear before Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, adding that it will take decisions that it deems “appropriate” in due course.

The State Capture Commission does have subpoena powers but in view of Zuma’s position adopted thus far, the former president may well be the first person to head to court to challenge it. DM

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