AS IT HAPPENED | Zuma retracts decision to withdraw from the Zondo commission

2019-07-19 09:34

Former president Jacob Zuma is back at the state capture commission of inquiry following an impasse between his legal team and that of the commission.

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Former president Jacob Zuma is seen during his tes
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Last Updated at 12:38
19 Jul 13:08
The commission adjourns until Monday. 

19 Jul 13:04
Zuma thanks Zondo: "It is the right of anyone to raise concerns if there are concerns and the concerns should be looked at. And I appreciate that you were able to meet the two teams and found the way forward."

19 Jul 13:03
Zuma wants to say something.

19 Jul 13:02

The commission won't continue today so that this process can take place. 

Zondo thanks each legal teams for the "constructive" discussions in chambers. 

He also wants to thank Zuma for "agreeing to give the processes of the commission a chance" and for agreeing to "continue to cooperate".  


19 Jul 13:01
The president will then prepare statements in response to each of the issues raised in the witness statements, Zondo says. 

19 Jul 13:00

19 Jul 12:59
The commission's legal team will prepare a document for Zuma, indicating exactly which parts of each witness statement they want to question him on. 

19 Jul 12:57

The commission's legal team will now indicate to Zuma which are its areas of interest in each witness statement. This is part of the agreement reached between the parties. 


19 Jul 12:55
Zondo: there has been an agreement that the decision that the former president will no longer participate in the proceedings is withdrawn.

19 Jul 12:53

The commission resumes. 

Zondo says there was a "very fruitful" discussion was held in chambers between the teams, characterised by professionalism.


19 Jul 12:21

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19 Jul 11:56

Why it's impossible not to cross-examine Zuma

This past week Jacob Zuma has given several reminders about who he really is and what he stands for. One of these is that he loves power but hates the formalities that come with it, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.


19 Jul 11:53

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Former president Jacob Zuma told the commission this week that he is the victim of a conspiracy theory perpetrated by spies. Why who is the real spy, here? News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson and assistant editor Pieter du Toit investigate. 

His threats have ignited a painful debate inside the ANC. Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, attended Tuesday’s sitting looking to show support and seemingly trying to ascertain just how much incendiary material the former party leader has in his arsenal. Talk inside Luthuli House was that the commission is turning into a liability for the governing party and that if left unchecked could see Zuma do enormous harm to the organisation.


19 Jul 11:22

Pretorius just wants to clarify that the letter referred to by Sikhakhane that was sent on Wednesday was merely pointing out that Zuma had not responded to their notice that he had been implicated by Agrizzi. 

The commission adjourns for an extended tea break. 

The legal teams are to meet Zondo in his chambers. 

Zondo repeats that he was encouraged by the spirit of cooperation between the parties on Wednesday and says he is confident that a way forward can be found. 


19 Jul 11:19

Sikhakhane says he trusts the chairperson's bona fides and this is why Zuma wanted to come here. 

Pretorius wants to respond.


19 Jul 11:18

Sikhakhane says to Zondo, "Your team is incompetent in how it raises things (with) us."

Applause from the audience. 

Zondo reminds the attendees that applause is not allowed. 

Sikhakhane withdraws the word "incompetent" and says the team is rather "inefficient". 


19 Jul 11:16

Sikhakhane says they are not criticising Zondo or his bona fides. 

But he feels that Zuma's rights were not respected by Pretorius. 


19 Jul 11:15
Sikhakhane says the "lecture" about the commission's powers (from Pretorius) is "fine", but in exercising these powers, "they have to be exercised within the prescripts of the Constitution". 

19 Jul 11:14

Sikhakhane says the team approaches Zondo's "genuine" attempts to find ways to move forward. But he is angry about Pretorius. 

Sikhakhane says Pretorius gave a "patronising lecture" on what cross-examination is.


19 Jul 11:12
Zondo wants to see if he can help the teams to find a way to keep Zuma at the commission. 

19 Jul 11:12

Zuma says he was encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and courtesy by the legal teams and this made him feel confident that a solution would be found to Zuma's concerns. 

Zondo wants a session in chambers with both sides. 


19 Jul 11:10
During that time, I interrupted him only once, Zondo says.

19 Jul 11:09
When Zuma asked permission to make a statement before the commission began on Monday, "I allowed it", Zondo says. No time limits were placed on Zuma.

19 Jul 11:08

Zondo said he had the power to summons the former president. But Zuma had promised to cooperate with the commission. He was given this assurance by Zuma's legal team, so there was no reason for a summons. 

A letter was written to Zuma to ask for an undertaking that he would come to the commission. 

He reiterates that it was his decision alone not to compel Zuma to come. 


19 Jul 11:02

Zondo says that events have been reported incorrectly in the media, and this is why he is repeating what happened with the questions. 

The lever arch files were simply a precaution to ensure that he could not say he had not received all the statements. They were all sent to him ahead of time.


19 Jul 11:01
Then Zuma wanted specific questions sent to him. Zondo says he personally rejected this idea.

19 Jul 11:00

Zondo says it was made clear to Zuma that the evidence to be put to him would be from specific witnesses. Those statements were sent to him. (Later it was discovered that one or two, by mistake, had not been sent.) All statements were put in lever arch files and sent to him. 

There would have been at least two weeks before his appearance to look at all the statements. 

It was acknowledged this week that the files were receives by Zuma's attorneys, Zondo says. 


19 Jul 10:57

Zondo says the decision to ask the former president to appear at the commission, "was my decision, and my decision alone." 

"I therefore don't want Mr Pretorius or the commission's legal team to be criticised for the decision that I made. I believe it was the correct decision - I still believe it is the correct decision. 

In this room, I am the only person who ultimately must make decisions... I and I alone must make those decisions. I believe that as far as is practicable, I must hear all sides. And it is in that context that I made a decision, that I'd like to hear the former president's side of the story."


19 Jul 10:53

COMMENT: Zondo is clearly disappointed by the way things have turned out. He is also visibly irritated that he did not know that talks between the teams had broken down by yesterday evening. He has spend most of this week trying to keep Zuma on the stand by being accommodating, and did not want to have the former president here by subpoena.

- Sarah Evans 


19 Jul 10:52

Secondly, Zondo says, when we adjourned on Wednesday, he said there were reasonable prospects that the teams could find common ground. 

While there was no guarantee, he had confidence, Zondo said. 


19 Jul 10:50

Zondo now responds. 

"I'm disappointed that yesterday a situation was allowed to happen where I went to bed without knowing how the discussions between the commission's legal team and the former president's legal teams were going. 

I had indicated to both teams in chambers that I would need to be informed and I had in mind that, if by a certain time, and I took the view that there were challenges in reaching agreements, and there may have been room for me to contribute to the resolution of the impasse, I would have considered meeting with both teams." 


19 Jul 10:47

Pretorius says there might be questions about what cross-examination means. 

He says that cross-examination typically happens after a witness has been led in their evidence in chief by another party. It can include a variety of questions. 

But it is primarily used to secure evidence in support of a case or challenge evidence in support of that case. 

That is not what is going on here, Pretorius says.

The evidence leaders must determine whether a witness is being truthful, he adds.

"In short, we have complied by the rules."


19 Jul 10:45

19 Jul 10:43
Pretorius says the term "cross-examination" has been used "loosely" by Zuma's legal team. The evidence leaders don't cross-examine because they are not trying to prove a case, he says. 

19 Jul 10:42
The commission's legal teams are "obliged" to ask tough questions of witnesses, and will continue to do so "of all witnesses", Pretorius emphasises. 

19 Jul 10:41
Pretorius says the evidence leaders is not here to "prove a case". They ask questions in an inquisitorial manner, not a prosecutorial one, but they also have to ask questions that may be regarded as "difficult".

19 Jul 10:40

Pretorius denies that the commission's legal team have breached the rules. 

If anyone feels that this is true they can appeal to the chairperson and he can make a determination, Pretorius says. 


19 Jul 10:39

19 Jul 10:38

Zuma's legal team also said there had been a breach of the commission's rules. 

Pretorius says they cannot just decide that the rules have been breached and then decide that they can act on this. 

"That's not the way our law works," he says.


19 Jul 10:37

Pretorius now turns to the letter he received from Zuma's team yesterday. 

Zuma was "subjected to relentless cross-examination", the team alleged. 

Pretorius says he doesn't know what this refers to. The letter doesn't explain and no specific line of question is referenced.


19 Jul 10:35

Pretorius reads from the commission's rules: 

"No person may refuse to answer questions (except in the case of legally priveleged information)". 

The commission's legal team has a "duty" to carry out its powers.

"We cannot enter into any arrangement to favour - and this is what is being asked for - Mr Zuma is asked to be excused from the rules." 


19 Jul 10:33

Evidence leader Adv Paul Pretorius now response. 

He wants to clarify things. 

When Zuma was invited to the commission, the reasons were "detailed". There was no lack of clarity on the topics of discussion and the implications thereof, says Pretorius. 

It was also clear that the commission was not using its powers to compel a witnesses to get Zuma to appear. 

But whether a witness comes to the commission voluntarily or not, "certain obligations arise", Pretorius says.


19 Jul 10:31

19 Jul 10:31
Sikhakhane says they cannot continue "while this commission thinks we must just walk him (Zuma) into Kgosi Mampuru prison and be done".

19 Jul 10:29

"The commission does not know its own ground rules..." 

Sikhakhane says they are considering going to court. 


19 Jul 10:27

"This commission does not know who is guilty. It is trying to find out," Sikhakhane says. He says the commission must ignore what people say outside the commission. 

Witnesses must not be "persecuted" in the way that they are "outside", he says.


19 Jul 10:26

Sikhakhane says that the team received a letter on Wednesday while the teams were trying to reach an agreement. 

"Dear Mr Zuma..." the letter informs Zuma that he was implicated in the testimony of Angelo Agrizzi. 

"We require to meet with you... with the purpose of obtaining your written explanation in a statement form in response to the allegations against you," said the commission's legal team.

Zuma was on the stand at the time. 


19 Jul 10:24

19 Jul 10:23

Sikhakhane now turns to the nine witnesses whom Zuma was expected to respond to. 

He wants to talk about Angelo Agrizzi. 

Sikhakhane says Zuma was treated, from the beginning, as an accused person at the commission.


19 Jul 10:22

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