Justice Zondo to deliver Jacob Zuma's judgment on recusal on Wednesday
Johannesburg – The Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday told the commission probing state capture he was unable to deliver a judgment in former president Jacob Zuma’s application for his recusal.
Detailing his reasons, Justice Zondo said he was still going through documents to carefully arrive at a proper judgment.
Zuma made a formal application on Monday asking Zondo to recuse himself, saying the judge had, through his commission, lined up hostile witnesses to testify against him since the commission into state capture began in 2018.
He listed a number of perceived hostile witnesses such as the former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan; Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula; former finance minister Trevor Manuel; former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
In his application, Zuma argued these witnesses had an axe to grind with him and had used the commission to peddle “lies he was responsible for state capture in South Africa.
He also argued Zondo treated some of these witnesses, such as Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan with kid gloves, saying Gordhan was portrayed “as a conveyancer of the universal truth of state capture".
But evidence leader Adv Paul Pretorius asked Zondo to reject this, saying Zuma had failed to lead evidence showing the judge was biased against him. He also Zuma did not lead evidence indicating the judge had prejudged the matter and said those were litmus tests for a recusal application.
After the postponement of the case, Zuma, through his legal counsel Adv Muzi Sikhakhane, asked Zondo to allow him an opportunity to react to a statement by him before the hearing of his application.
In the statement, Judge Zondo distanced himself from claims he and Zuma had any close relationship, including when he was appointed as a judge in 1997.
“I've never invited Mr Zuma to any family functions, including my birthdays since I met him in the early 1990s.
“He has also never invited me to any of his birthday parties since we got to know each other.
“Mr Zuma does not get told when there is a death in my family. As a result, he has never attended any of the family funerals we have had since I got to know him, even though from the early 1990s to date, I've lost 4 siblings and a mother.
“I've never attended the funeral of any member of the Zuma family, nor does Mr Zuma inform me when there has been any death in his family.
“To the best of my recollection since the 1990s, I've never shared any private news with Mr Zuma.
“I've never been to Mr Zuma's presidential office when he was president, nor did I go to his official residence,” Zondo said.
The judge granted Zuma an opportunity to react to this statement, but he would not be personally at the commission as he has a family funeral on Wednesday.
Sikhakhane is expected to table the reply on behalf of Zuma. Zondo postponed the judgment to Wednesday.