The ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte feels Jacob Zuma has a point against the Zondo commission, according to a leaked audiotape. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives
The ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte feels Jacob Zuma has a point against the Zondo commission, according to a leaked audiotape. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Leaked audio: Some ANC top six members appear to concur with Zuma that Zondo commission and judiciary are biased

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Durban: The latest leak of the audio recording of the March 8 virtual meeting between the ANC’s top six, led by party president Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Jacob Zuma, appears to show at least one senior member of the ruling party believes the Zondo commission has discredited itself.

This morning, as more leaks of the meeting were emerging, a recording started circulating and it reveals ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte feels Zuma has a point against the commission.

Although the timing and selection of the parts of the meeting to be leaked are suspicious and seemingly designed to drive the agenda that Zuma would not get a fair hearing from the commission and the judiciary, they paint a picture that the issue of judiciary independence featured prominently in the meeting.

In the audio recording, which is 8 minutes and 50 seconds, Duarte tells the meeting's participants the Zondo commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, discredited itself by adopting a prosecutorial posture instead of being a commission looking for facts to use when finalising its report.

“What is concerning is that comrade Zuma articulates the flaws that we have in the judiciary very very well. It is not that we can’t see what is wrong with Zondo… For example, it has turned into a court of law, it is no longer a commission. They almost have a prosecutorial attitude towards people who come to give evidence,” Duarte is heard saying, adding that one example was the arrest of former ANC MP Vincent Smith shortly after he gave evidence to the commission.

“Going to the commission under Zondo, personally, I believe absolutely it is not a good thing for comrade Zuma to do, given the personal and historical antagonism that exists between them (Zuma and Zondo).”

Duarte implied it would have been pointless for Zuma to approach the court for relief as there were concerns that the judiciary was compromised. She singled out the North Gauteng High Court (in Pretoria) which is headed by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, saying it issued questionable rulings.

“One of the things I feel that, as a top six, we must discuss is whether or not transformation in this judiciary has in fact taken place. Why is it that whenever we go to the North Gauteng High Court, we know that we will lose… It’s almost a given that if we go to Dunstan Mlambo we will lose the case. It’s almost a given that if Judge (John) Hlophe in the Western Cape listens to a matter, the ANC will come out better,” she said.

Towards the end of her input around the judiciary, Duarte is heard slamming Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his Christian views, which she said were dangerous as he was a chief justice in a secular society.

Also addressed by Duarte was the disputed claims Zuma made that, in March 2018, Inkosi Mandla Mandela went to Qatar to plead with the emir there to cut his support of the former head of the state.

Duarte said that if that was true, Mandela should be taken to task because that implied that the ANC was trying to suffocate Zuma who is facing mounting legal bills after the state withdrew the funding of his corruption trial.

It is worth noting that, last week, Mandela issued a statement in which he denied that he went to Qatar because he was on a mission to cut Zuma’s lifeline. He said he was there on an official visit and at no point did he and the Emir discuss Zuma.

Duarte did not comment when asked about the content of the recordings.

Efforts were made to offer a right to reply to the Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela, the spokesperson of the commission. He had not commented at the time this report was compiled. Also not commenting at the time of the report was Nathi Mncube, the spokesperson of the Office of the Chief Justice which conducts oversight on judges and their work.

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Political Bureau

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