Zuma says state capture inquiry is a 'political project' against him

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Former president Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo commission.
Former president Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo commission.
PHOTO: Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images
  • Former president Jacob Zuma filed a 530-page application to challenge Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's refusal to recuse himself.
  • Zuma says his perception of Zondo's bias against him is based on the fact that the inquiry failed to investigate his claims that foreign and apartheid spies had tried to kill him.
  • The state capture inquiry is seeking a Constitutional Court order compelling Zuma to appear before Zondo to  answer questions.

Former president Jacob Zuma has accused the state capture inquiry of failing to investigate his claims that foreign and apartheid spies have been trying to kill him – and he says this failure confirms his suspicion that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is biased against him.

"If the chairperson had bothered to investigate my claims, he would have found that he had been selected and appointed by the chief justice to preside over a political project," Zuma states in a 530-page challenge to Zondo's refusal to recuse himself.

He says he believes that this political project is "being executed through the commission".

Zuma last month tried and failed to persuade Zondo to recuse himself, after contending that the state capture inquiry had carefully selected its witnesses from people who were disgruntled over his decisions to fire them or determined to badmouth the ANC and his leadership of the party.

He launched his review of Zondo's dismissal of his recusal case on the same day that the inquiry filed its application to compel Zuma to appear before Zondo, in January and February next year, to answer questions about his term in office.

That application, which Zuma is not opposing, will be heard on 29 December.

Zuma's recusal challenge is not an urgent case, so it won't be heard before his next mooted appearance before the inquiry or 31 March next year – which is when Zondo is due to hand over his final report to President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

This latest case may, however, be used as a basis for the former president declining to answer any of the inquiry's questions. 

In his attempt to force Zondo's recusal, Zuma has rejected any suggestion that any decision by Zondo to step down as inquiry chair in matters involving him and his family would collapse the inquiry, as "irrational and irrelevant".

"He [Zondo] would have been free to continue investigating other implicated persons and issues not directly relevant to me and my family."

Zuma further contends that his perception of Zondo's bias against him is based "on the objective fact that the commission simply ignored the extraordinary allegations that I made regarding the manipulation of our democratic system by foreign agencies working with internal ones".

Zuma claims it was after he appeared before Zondo in July last year – and detailed how he had been the target of various foreign and apartheid intelligence plots to destroy him politically and kill him – that "I realised the attitude of the chairperson was such that he was neither impartial nor independent".

His mind, in my view, was made up that my presidency was characterised by state capture, corruption and fraud.

During that July 2019 evidence, Zuma claimed that he had been made aware of several plots to kill him, including a planned suicide bombing at a Maskandi concert and efforts to tamper with his aircraft.

He also made reference to two intelligence reports, whose existence he says the Zondo Inquiry has failed to investigate, "in which it made clear that my political influence in the country should be eliminated".

According to Zuma, the inquiry was "in essence the perfection of political project that began a long time ago which was targeted at eliminating my influence on the politics of South Africa".

"In my appearance at the commission, I specifically set out the political context within which I believe the commission was established, which mired the chairperson in political controversy and therefore a position that is inconsistent with the central mission of the judiciary."

During Zuma's application for Zondo's recusal, evidence leader Paul Pretorius SC stated that the commission's investigators were investigating Zuma's claims.

But Zuma said Pretorius' statements were "vague" and "incoherent and devoid of any meaning to give me comfort that I was being taken seriously".

Zuma continues to insist that he and Zondo were friends, despite the latter's claims to the contrary.

By disputing Zuma's claims that he and Zondo had a "close personal relationship", the former president says the deputy chief justice "transmogrified himself into a witness in my dispute, from being an impartial and fair adjudicator, rendering himself disqualified to preside over the dispute involving me".

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