Former President Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)
Former President Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

Zondo commission postponed as Zuma unhappy with 'cross-examinations'

By Getrude Makhafola Time of article published Jul 17, 2019

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Johannesburg - The state capture commission of inquiry was postponed to Friday to allow the commission's legal team and that of former president Jacob Zuma to iron out his concerns on the manner in which he was questioned by evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius.

This followed an impromptu adjournment requested by Zuma's senior counsel Muzi Sikhakhane, who threatened to have the former president pull out of the commission because he was brought before the commission on "false pretences and was instead being cross-examined." 

Commission chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said the two parties agreed to set aside Thursday and come up with a solution without compromising the work of the commission.

"This commission would like to make sure that it takes everybody on board as far as possible. What has been agreed on is that there should be an opportunity for both legal teams to look at the former president's concerns and see whether a way could be found in which they could be accommodated without the commission's legal team compromising any part of their obligations. It has been decided that we should adjourn and not seat tomorrow [Thursday]," Zondo said.

"Yesterday I said that I do believe that all sides will find solutions to all issues raised. I am confident that there are reasonable prospects that a way will be found to proceed with a certain understanding... I am confident that a way will be found."

Sikhakhane had earlier threatened to advise his client to reconsider the decision to appear before the commission when Zuma complained that he was repeatedly asked questions about details that he did not know.

Pretorius' questions were based on the damning testimony of ex-public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan who alleged that Zuma had interfered and pushed to have Siyabonga Gama appointed Transnet CEO instead of Sipho Maseko in 2009. Hogan told the commission last year that Maseko, now CEO at Telkom, was recommended by the board as the most experienced and highly qualified candidate to replace Maria Ramos.

The former president complained that he was being cross-examined "thoroughly", despite Zondo's explanation that the questions to the former president were necessary to understand what happened and to help the commission in its probe. 

Zuma had allegedly insisted "no one else but Gama" to Hogan, despite him facing serious misconduct charges at the state-owned enterprise at the time. The charges against Gama related to the irregular awarding of an R18 million security contract to a company owned by former SANDF chief of staff and now MK Council president Siphiwe Nyanda. 

Gama was found guilty of every charge in 2010. He was then dismissed, only to be reappointed following ''a review of the dismissal.'' 

The new board at the time that took over from chairman Fred Phaswana and was headed by Mafika Mkwanazi, reversed the previous board's decision on Gama, allowing him to return to Transnet.

Gama was later appointed acting CEO and then permanent CEO in 2016 until his dismissal in October 2018, as Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan embarked on a ''clean sweep'' of the country's bitterly compromised state-owned enterprises.

African News Agency (ANA)

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