Zondo blasts Jacob Zuma’s defiance, and continues without him
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Johannesburg – The Zondo commission has moved to dismiss former president Jacob Zuma’s reasons for refusing to take the stand and give evidence on the allegations of state capture and corruption levelled against him.
Zuma had been summoned by the commission to appear before the commission where a week had been set aside for him to give his version on the testimony that had been given before the commission and which implicated him in allegations of wrongdoing.
Zuma, who had earlier indicated he would defy the commission and refuse to participate in its proceedings, had on Monday morning written to the commission through his lawyers and reiterated he would not be taking the stand.
Zuma argued he was still busy pursuing a review application on the refusal of the commission’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to recuse himself, which he said had not been adjudicated by the Constitutional Court when it ordered him to co-operate with the commission last month.
Zondo, however, moved to dismiss Zuma’s argument and pointed out the commission had informed the court about Zuma’s contemplated review application and the highest court in the land had nonetheless ordered him to appear before the inquiry.
“In that application, the point is made quite clearly that the commission was aware that Mr Zuma intended to launch a review application in regard to the recusal application and it was contended by the secretary of the commission (Itumeleng Mosala) that that would be no ground for him not to appear before the commission in the meantime,” Zondo said.
Zondo said Zuma and his lawyers had known this was one of the points being made by the commission before the ConCourt, as they had been sent documents despite their decision to not participate in the court action.
“If they contested that, it was up to them to file papers in the Constitutional Court and say the commission is wrong,” he said.
Zondo said he did not understand why Zuma was afraid to take a stand and answer to the questions the commission had for him, despite his claim he had not been implicated.
“It is difficult to understand why he would be scared of taking the witness stand and subjecting himself to questioning like everybody else,” he said.
Evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius said Zuma’s refusal to testify continued, despite him being referred to directly by name in the terms of reference of the commission, as well as being implicated by many witnesses.
“Mr Zuma has also been implicated to date by the evidence of at least 40 witnesses. Whether Mr Zuma believes he has been accused of wrongdoing or not, his responses to that allegation are still directly relevant to the work of this commission,” Pretorius said.
Pretorius said it was also difficult to understand why Zuma had wanted to rely on a right against self-incrimination if he believed there was no evidence which incriminated him before the commission.
Pretorius said the commission’s legal team would continue on Monday.
These included details of what happened during the Zuma presidency, including the influence the Gupta family had over his government and state owned companies and Zuma’s hand in enabling this, as well as the receipt of substantial monetary and other benefits from private and state sources, among others.