FRIDAY BRIEFING | Conspiracies, illness and excuses: How Jacob Zuma tried to dodge the Zondo commission

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Friday Briefing

Zuma's empty promises: Signalling nothing

"Give me my day in court."

It's a phrase we hear often from Jacob Zuma. Yet every step of the way, when the time comes for the former president to make an appearance, there is some sort of obstacle. 

Zuma's corruption trial was postponed earlier this month to December over pre-trial management issues. The matter, well over a decade in the making, is on the cusp of going to trial after both Zuma and his co-accused, French arms company Thales, failed in their applications for a stay of prosecution. Previously Zuma was unable to attend court because he was ill. After the judge did not accept the sick note offered by his legal team, a warrant of arrest was issued for the former president. At the next court date an amended note was submitted and the warrant for arrest withdrawn. I am sure, by December, there will be another reason why the trial can't finally get underway. 

Besides asking for his day in court, another well-worn phrase that Zuma likes to use is that he is being persecuted by the media. 

This "perception" was trotted out again this week when the Jacob Zuma Foundation, a conduit for the former president, issued a statement accusing Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo of "playing to the media gallery" after Zondo gave Zuma new non-negotiable dates to appear in November at his state capture inquiry. This after Zuma retracted his wilful participation at the commission last year, after claiming he had been lured to the inquiry on false pretences. 

Zuma, while head of the state and president of the ANC, was notorious for using his authority to bend procedure. Now that he has no authority to exercise, he appears hellbent on using a myriad of delaying tactics - ranging from seeking delays, to procedural quibbles, appeals and medical excuses - all to avoid what he pretends to be asking for. 

For this week's Friday Briefing, freelance journalist Karyn Maughan analyses whether we will in fact see Zuma appear before the commission, or if it is just wishful thinking on Zondo's part. 

As Thursday was Heritage Day, we are also focusing on the debate around the removal of statues and our shared history. Dr Cynthia Kros argues that perhaps it is better for statues deemed offensive to be moved to a theme park or a museum where they will face a different kind of scrutiny and even may help mend our fractured past, while UKZN history lecturer Mphumeleli Ngidi writes that history cannot be erased through the tearing down of statues because history is in the memories we carry with us. Finally, News24's James de Villiers sat down with the DA's Veronica Van Dyk and questioned her on why the party was against the removal of colonial/apartheid era statues. 

It's a bumper read before you get your weekend started, if you didn't already take Friday off.  


Vanessa Banton 

Opinions Editor. 

Jacob Zuma's hide and seek with the Zondo commission

By all indications, former president Jacob Zuma is unlikely to return to Zondo commission to continue with his testimony, despite threats by chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to legally force him to appear, writes Karyn Maughan.

Theme parks for statues? A threat to nation building?

Removing statues deemed offensive to a museum or a '"theme park"might place them under a different scrutiny and therefore lead to a better writing of history and more mending of fences, writes Cynthia Kros. 

The statue debate: No easy answers on the way forward

History cannot be erased by tearing down statues as history is in the memories we carry with us, writes Mphumeleli Ngidi. 

Explainer: What you need to know about plan for colonial/apartheid statue theme parks

Cabinet recently announced that a task team had been earmarked to investigate the possibility of creating "theme parks" for some of the country’s old statues.

Is the DA against the removal of apartheid statues? 5 questions with MP Veronica Van Dyk

James de Villiers spoke to DA MP Veronica Van Dyk about the party’s concerns over the removal of statues, and whether it opposes the removal of any statue. 


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