Why Zuma doesn't want Zondo to preside over his testimony
Durban - Albeit submitted in the nick of time, former President Jacob Zuma has extensively outlined why deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo, should not chair the state capture commission while hearing out his much anticipated and high stakes testimony billed for Monday.
In an affidavit that is 102 pages long, Zuma paints Zondo as a deeply unethical man of the law who has greatly abused his authority since the commission started hearing evidence over two years ago.
Zuma accuses Zondo of having an agenda against him to an extent that he would channel some of the commission's witnesses to implicate him at any cost - even if his (Zondo's) impartiality is compromised.
He points out two prominent witnesses as having been allegedly influenced by Zondo. One is former public enterprises minister, Barbara Hogan and transport minister, Fikile Mbalula.
Zuma argues he was not asking the judge to step aside because he fathers a love child with the sister of Thobeka Mabida, one of his wives but because of public remarks he has made about him and the way he conducts the business of the commission.
“The carefully selected witnesses were to give evidence to sustain the former public protector’s (Adv Thuli Madonsela) theory of ’state capture’ and adopted by the North Gauteng high court and the commission. From a plethora of his comments, it is clear that the chairperson is of the view that there was “state capture” or corruption. The selection of the witnesses appears to have been intended to confirm this version,” Zuma said in the filing.
He then lists nine people whom he believes the commission selected to come to testify in order to smear him and confirm that there was state capture.
“In this regard, the following witnesses were selected, to the exclusion of other cabinet members that could have stated a contrary version: Pravin Gordhan (public enterprises minister), Mcebisi Jonas (former finance deputy minister), Nhlanhla Nene (former finance minister), Ngoako Ramathlodi (former minister mineral resources),Ms Vytjie Mentor (former ANC MP), Trevor Manuel(former finance minister), Ms Barbara Hogan, Mr Themba Maseko (former head of government communication) and Fikile Mbalula,” he claimed.
Furthermore, Zuma pointed out that the commission only opted for witnesses who in one way or the other, have an axe to grind.
“It appears to me what the commission did was to identify, fetch and interview people who could implicate me in some wrongdoing. It is also apparent that the people who called were politically hostile to me and or had some other grievance or complaint against me. The first act of bias, therefore, is in the identification of witnesses for the commission…
“It has only sought versions of those that have unresolved issues with me. More recently, it has become some sort of agent of law enforcement agencies and prosecution authorities,” Zuma claimed.
At some point in the thick affidavit, Zuma also points out that the commission has ignored his own evidence when he made his first appearance in July last year.
“It appears that the chairperson paid no regard to my testimony.”
In a statement released by the commission on Friday, it said Zuma’s request to have Zondo vacate the chair would be heard on Monday morning. It was not clear whether Zuma is compelled to attend that hearing or if only his lawyers would handle the matter.