A “sick” former president Jacob Zuma has requested that his testimony, scheduled to resume before the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture on Monday, be postponed.
This announcement came just hours after the Zondo inquiry had earlier announced that Zuma will be making a return to testify next week before the commission.
“The commission has been informed by the legal representatives of the former president, Mr JG Zuma, that he is ill and unable to attend the hearings…” reads a statement from commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela.
This comes after the Zondo commission had initially confirmed on Tuesday that dates had been set aside for Zuma to continue with his testimony next week. The proceedings were expected to last the whole week.
The new dates had been arrived at after proceedings came to a sudden halt in July with Zuma’s legal team announcing that their client would no longer be a “willingly participate” before the Zondo commission until the commission’s legal team could assure Zuma’s lawyers that it would address his concerns.
The former president’s major bone of contention was the fact that he was not furnished with the questions that the commission’s evidence leader would be asking him prior to his appearance before the commission.
This was rectified through a compromise that saw the commission’s legal team being instructed by commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to, instead of giving Zuma’s legal team the exact questions, give them the areas of interest which he would be quizzed on.
The commission of inquiry finally released the areas of interest around which Zuma would be cross-examined in October.
According to the 11-page document, Zuma will be asked to respond to allegations put forward by Advocate Thabani Masuku, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, former minister of health and of public enterprises Barbara Hogan, former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Mahlodi Sam Muofhe, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and former Bosasa CEO Angelo Agrizzi during their testimonies before the commission.
Also of particular interest to the inquiry will be Zuma’s Gupta family connections, which allegedly led to the establishment of the New Age Newspaper and the ANN 7 television news channel.
The removal of Mentor as chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee of public enterprises, which was done via the Cabinet reshuffle at the end of October 2010, will also form part of the areas of interest.
The commission will also interrogate Zuma’s role and the circumstances surrounding the attempts to have Siyabonga Gama appointed as chief executive at Transnet, and his subsequent appointment as CEO of Transnet Freight Rail.