Zondo releases broad ‘areas of interest’ on which Zuma will testify

Former president Jacob Zuma  Picture: Gallo Images/ getty Images
Former president Jacob Zuma Picture: Gallo Images/ getty Images

The commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture has finally released the areas of interest around which former president Jacob Zuma will be cross-examined when he next appears before it.

An 11-page document was made public on Wednesday by the commission.

Zuma’s lawyers, who include Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, requested in July that the commission furnish their client with the exact questions to be put to him in order to ensure that he was adequately prepared for his next appearance.

However Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, said this week that Zuma would not receive the questions, but would receive only the areas of interest around which he could expect to be questioned.

According to the 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.

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 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.

Zuma will also have to respond to questions around Nene’s dismissal and the appointment of former finance minister Des van Rooyen instead.

During his appearance at the commission, Zuma made claims that uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association council chairperson General Siphiwe Nyanda and Ramatlhodi were spies.

Both men hit back, with Ramatlhodi challenging Zuma to a lie detector test and Nyanda saying he would consider cross-examining Zuma at the commission.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the commission alleged that an article published by both the Business Day and Sowetan on October 4 was “untrue”. The articles alleged that the commission had sent Zuma an 11-page document filled with 80 questions ahead of his next appearance.

“The chairperson [Judge Zondo] raised the commission’s concerns about the article at the hearing on Tuesday, October 8, and made it clear that the statements in the article that the commission had sent Mr Zuma questions in advance of his appearance before it is simply factually untrue. It must also be stated that the commission has never agreed to furnish Mr Zuma with any questions in advance,” the statement said.

Instead, the commission has said that the document was sent to Zuma’s legal team and outlined the areas of interest which were agreed upon on July 19.

Zuma is expected to appear at the commission later this month.

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