Zondo Commission lined up hostile witnesses against me – Zuma
Johannesburg – Jacob Zuma has accused Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who is probing state capture, of favouring witnesses who support the narrative that the former president was responsible for State capture during his tenure.
Zuma made these remarks yesterday, through his legal counsel, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, when he formally made his application for the recusal of the judge to Judge Zondo.
Sikhakhane argued in the application that the commission’s line-up of witnesses such as former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula gave his client an impression Judge Zondo was supporting their version of state capture.
“Mr Pravin Gordhan was portrayed as a conveyancer of the universal truth of state capture,” Sikhakhane said.
According to Sikhakhane, most of the witnesses who appeared before the commission had an axe to grind with Zuma. He also denied allegations Zuma refused to appear before the commission, saying the former president failed to appear in September last year due to ill-health.
Sikhakhane also took a swipe at various organisations and persons who claimed Zuma was not likely to appear before the commission today.
The response to organisations such as the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation followed after the organisations issued a statement last night, saying: “We condemn all attempts aimed at frustrating and delegitimising its work.
’’Given the national importance of the work of the Zondo Commission in probing state capture, we believe that its findings and recommendations will be critical in dismantling corrupt networks that over the past decade have eroded our democracy.
“The commission has its roots in the ‘State of Capture’ Report (2016), published by former Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela,” the statement read.
These organisations further said that they were perturbed by the evasive attitude in recent weeks of selected witnesses appearing before Judge Zondo.
“We urge the former president not to employ a similar strategy, nor delaying tactics. We believe that an innocent person will have no qualms about being frank, transparent and accountable to the public through the Commission.
“It is shocking that some tend to think that Judge Zondo has an ‘obsession’ with Zuma when in fact, a substantial amount of information that has emerged from witness testimony thus far implicates the former President and his associates.
“Zuma must respond transparently to the litany of allegations that have been levelled against him by various witnesses. The public wants to know the role that the president may or may not have played in assisting the Gupta family’s business interests.
’’We want to know if the Gupta brothers had any role to play in the appointment and dismissal of Cabinet ministers during his tenure as president,’’ the statement read.