Cape Town – DA leader John Steenhuisen has criticised a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to discuss the timing of the handover of the state capture report.
Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Zondo had an “urgent” call on Monday morning relating to the submission of the final section of the state capture report. The private discussion took place during a break in a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interview.
Steenhuisen, the leader of the official opposition, said this is wrong and deeply unethical.
“This constitutes a dangerous and unacceptable interference in the judicial process ,which casts a long shadow over both the independence of South Africa’s judiciary and the credibility of the presidency.
“At a time when trust in the presidency is at an all-time low, any suggestion that the president may be interfering with the independent work of the commission or manipulating the timing of the report’s release is rightfully met with suspicion.”
Steenhuisen added that it was unheard of for any individual, who is the subject of an investigation being conducted by the state’s law enforcement and judiciary, to be able to manipulate the content of an investigative report or the timing of its release.
“It is astounding that the president sees nothing wrong in attending this meeting. The delay of the court-mandated deadline for the release of the final Zondo Report, seemingly at the hand of the president, should set alarm bells ringing.”
The report was scheduled to be handed over to Ramaphosa in the evening, following earlier court applications by the commission to delay its release owing to outstanding work.
However, presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya tweeted that the president and Chief Justice Zondo, who chairs the State Capture Commission, met earlier in the day and decided to delay the handover, which is now five days later than required by a High Court order issued in April.
The delay comes as former State Security Agency (SSA) boss Arthur Fraser met the Hawks to provide more evidence about the Phala Phala farm break-in.
The delayed report is expected to include findings of investigations into the SSA, with expectations that Fraser’s name will be featured as he was implicated in alleged wrongdoing at the inquiry.
“The president of the Republic has no right to delay or obstruct justice, and one can only assume that President Ramaphosa is seeking to delay the release of the final Zondo Report for two reasons: because it directly implicates him in state capture, and because the timing of the release is inconvenient given the current controversy surrounding the theft of four million US dollars from his Phala Phala farm in 2020,” said Steenhuisen.
He called on Ramaphosa and Judge Zondo to take the country into their confidence and urgently issue statements explaining the nature of their meeting, who initiated it, and why it was permitted to go ahead, given the evident conflict this presents with the principles of independence and justice.