STATE CAPTURE REPORT, AFTERMATH
Zuma to start a five-pronged Stalingrad attack against Zondo and the Commission
Former president Jacob Zuma is expected to a launch a full-scale offensive against Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, whom he claims holds a ‘hatred’ and ‘deep-seated resentment’ towards him, just days after Zondo handed President Cyril Ramaphosa the final part of the State Capture report.
According to Zuma’s eponymous foundation, the former president will be taking on review aspects of the full report in which he is directly implicated in wrongdoing.
In the final instalment of the report, made public on Wednesday, Zondo again makes wide-ranging findings of corruption and self-enrichment against Zuma and his family, their links to the Gupta family and the way the ANC-led government came close to bringing South Africa to its knees.
The spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, unleashed a torrent of grievances against the sitting Chief Justice at a press briefing in Sandton on Saturday afternoon, while outlining the former president’s qualms.
Zuma was not at the briefing, although according to a statement released by his foundation on Friday he was supposed to “in personal attendance”. The former president’s advocate in his Arms Deal graft case, Dali Mpofu, said that he had advised against attendance, given Zuma’s parole conditions. Zuma was, however, in Sandton, he said, for a meeting with his legal team.
Manyi again accused Zondo, the judiciary, the media and a “conflicted” Ramaphosa of being party to injustices against Zuma.
He said Zuma would be taking on review aspects of the report in which he was directly implicated.
Zondo chaired the commission, which ran for over four years and is estimated to have cost taxpayers R1-billion. It has since summarised its findings into six parts, released in tranches.
Manyi, reading from a prepared statement, accused the “toothless” inquiry of “investigating a phantom thing called State Capture”.
He said that Zuma’s legal team would, within the next two weeks, approach the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to institute wide-ranging grievances against Zondo while simultaneously asking the courts to adjudicate on the matters.
“President Zuma would request both the courts and the JSC to separately give a serious look into five acts of illegality, breaches of the Constitution and, where applicable, the judicial code of conduct,” said Manyi.
The five areas are:
- Uncovering the “exact nature of the historical relationship” between Zuma and Zondo;
- The refusal of Zondo to recuse himself as chairman of the commission when he was “reasonably requested to do so”;
- The political and factional remarks made by Zondo about the outcomes of the 2017 ANC national conference;
- “Gratuitous insults and politically poisoned references” to Zuma in respect of the proposed changes to the electoral system as outlined in the State Capture report;
- Abuse of power by Zondo in his “irrational and insensitive remarks” that the decision to release Zuma on medical parole was “questionable”. Zuma believes this remark was intended to influence the outcome of a pending court decision.
Zuma’s brief incarceration is a sore point. He was found to be in contempt of court by the Constitutional Court for failing to adhere to a subpoena requiring his attendance at the commission, and was subsequently sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was finally whisked to jail by his personal security on 7 July 2021, his incarceration starting the horrific riots that saw KwaZulu-Natal, and to a lesser extent Gauteng, engulfed in unprecedented violence and looting for eight days.
Less than four months later, then correctional services boss Arthur Fraser granted Zuma medical parole, which was quickly challenged in court. In December 2021, the Gauteng High Court overturned Fraser’s decision, deeming it unlawful. Zuma has appealed that ruling, and the matter is expected to sit before the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in August.
Zondo said in his report this week that Fraser had released Zuma “under questionable circumstances and against the recommendations of the Parole Board”. The Chief Justice determined this was a quid pro quo, wherein Fraser approved the medical parole because Zuma had previously protected him from possible prosecution.
According to Manyi, this comment was particularly troublesome as the medical parole matter was still to be decided and could end up at the Constitutional Court.
“As the foundation, we are convinced that the Chief Justice was giving a coded message to the SCA to rule in a manner that will confirm what he has declared as ‘questionable circumstances’. We hope that the SCA will not allow itself to be bullied into unlawful and unconstitutional conduct,” said Manyi.
He said that Fraser had acted within his powers to release Zuma.
“The Jacob Zuma Foundation has also instructed lawyers to look into the possibility of challenging the unlawful appointment of Justice Zondo as the Chief Justice in spite of his dismal performance at the JSC interview. Zuma has also asked his legal team to accelerate the review of Zondo refusing to recuse himself [as chairperson of the commission when Zuma was expected to give evidence],” said Manyi.
The foundation was convinced that all six parts of the State Capture report were unlawful, said Manyi, as Zuma was not allowed in 2017 – then still the president – to decide who would chair the commission.
“We hold the view that given the unlawfulness [of the commission], it can’t be that its findings are lawful. This report’s findings are a classic case of the fruits from a poisoned tree,” said Manyi.
The commission was appointed after former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela made a recommendation that it be created in her October 2016 report titled “State of Capture”.
A key point of controversy in her recommendations was that Zuma, then the sitting president and allowed to appoint a chair to any commission, should not be allowed to do so in this instance because he was so compromised. Instead, then Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was instructed to present a recommendation to Zuma. Mogoeng recommended Zondo, and Zuma acceded.
Manyi said Zuma had always been supportive of the commission, but given that his constitutional right to appoint the judge who would lead it was usurped, his role had been reduced to a “clerical” one, as he had been “spoon-fed” a candidate.
“This unlawful report of the unlawful commission is predictably full of gossip, innuendo and conjecture. It is very short of concrete evidence. Their report is characterised by bias in favour of the [ANC] faction supportive of President Ramaphosa,” said Manyi. DM