Zuma plays hardball with state capture commission inquiry on appearance
By Samkelo Mtshali
Despite a stern letter demanding that former president Jacob Zuma show up to the state commission of inquiry next week, he has fired back with his own letter, with his lawyer, Eric Mabuza, indicating he would not make an appearance.
This follows the commission’s letter on Monday in which Zuma was told in no uncertain terms that he would be expected to present himself from Monday, 18 January through to Friday, 22 January.
The commission wants Zuma to appear next week despite a pending decision of the Constitutional Court, after he made an application to the court to review and set aside Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s refusal to recuse himself from hearing matters concerning Zuma and his family.
In a letter to the commission, Mabuza said Zuma could only be legally obliged to appear after his review application has been determined.
“We remind the commission that it is deemed appropriate to approach the Constitutional Court on an extremely urgent basis to compel President Zuma to comply with the very same summons that the commission now wants to enforce and to forego some of his most fundamental rights.
“The commission must therefore await the outcome of the decision of the Constitutional Court. We further wish to remind the commission respectfully that its application to the Constitutional Court did not only deal with the appearance of President Zuma but included, amongst others, a request for an order that President Zuma should not be allowed to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent,” said Mabuza.
He insisted that the commission should await the decision of the Constitutional Court, which has a bearing on Zuma’s appearance.
Mabuza also said the summons compelling Zuma to attand could not be legally enforced at this stage.
“We again place on record what we have previously stated regarding how the commission continues to display conduct that shows clear bias against President Zuma.
"In this instance, the commission now seeks to undermine a pending Constitutional Court judgment in pursuance of President Zuma.
“Please be reminded that President Zuma enjoys no lesser rights than any other citizen of this country and the commission has no powers whatsoever to act in a way that undermines President Zuma’s constitutional rights," he wrote.