Former president Jacob Zuma appears before the Zondo Commission. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - A key ally of former president Jacob Zuma has applauded him for returning to the state capture inquiry on Friday after his testimony was abruptly halted due to him objecting to the line of questioning.

Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association President and ANC MP Kebby Maphatsoe on Thursday described his expected return to the inquiry the right move and that he was showing leadership.

The inquiry announced on Thursday that it would continue to hear Zuma's testimony today.

”Yes, it is the right move. He wanted it not to appear as though he does not want to answer questions,” said Maphatsoe.

He said it appeared as though the legal teams had managed to find each other on the issue of questioning.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had asked both legal teams to find an amicable solution to the impasse on Thursday.

Maphatsoe said the dismissal of directors-general did not fall under Zuma. The directive to ministers that they did not have the powers to suspend and institute disciplinary actions against directors-general or heads of departments was issued by former public service and administration minister Ayanda Dlodlo in April last year.

It stated that only President Cyril Ramaphosa had such powers unless he delegated.

Maphatsoe said the country was going nowhere as any new minister could come into a department and fire the director-general.

On Wednesday, before Justice Zondo adjourned proceedings, Zuma and his senior counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane, objected to evidence leader Paul Pretorius’s questioning on what he said was the work of directors-general and other government officials when he was head of state.

They complained about questions relating to the dismissal or transfer of former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) chief executive Themba Maseko to the position of public service and administration director-general.

Maseko refused to give the controversial Gupta family access to the government’s R600 million advertising budget when they were about to launch their newspaper, The New Age. 

Constitutional law expert Emeritus Professor Shadrack Gutto said Zuma was in a very sticky situation and that the nation would have to wait and see if he continued testifying after an amicable solution was found between his legal team and the commission’s.

Gutto said he did not expect evidence leaders to substantially depart from the manner in which Zuma had been questioned. He said whoever appears before a commission of inquiry will be questioned as its role was to seek the truth or debunk previous testimony.

“You can only do that by putting questions,” he said.

According to Gutto, Zuma has put himself in a hole and is now struggling to get out of it. He said Zuma’s standard responses to questions were “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” after spending his first day of giving evidence on Monday going on about his history in the ANC and revealing alleged spies.

Zuma told the commission that his former Cabinet ministers Siphiwe Nyanda and Ngoako Ramatlhodi were apartheid spies. Sikhakhane said the inquiry had brought his client there under false pretences.

But Gutto asked what Sikhakhane meant by “false pretence”. “Evidence leaders must ask questions,” he said. Zuma’s attorney, Dan Mantsha, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Political Bureau