Defiant Zuma doubles down on decision to snub inquiry, accuses Zondo of playing politics

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  • Former president Jacob Zuma has slammed Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for "playing politics" in his handling of the state capture inquiry.
  • Zuma has doubled down on his earlier decision to not appear before the commission.
  • Zondo said on Monday that the Constitutional Court will need to decide whether Zuma is in contempt of court for failing to obey an order to appear before the inquiry.

Former president Jacob Zuma has doubled down on his decision to not appear before the Zondo Commission, once again blasting the commission for, in his view, not holding a fair and independent inquiry.

In a 12-page statement released on Monday evening, Zuma said he will wait for the Constitutional Court to make a decision as to whether he is in contempt of court.

Earlier in the day, Zuma failed to appear before the commission, and the commission said it will turn to the apex court to determine whether Zuma needs to be arrested for contempt of court.

READ | State capture commission to ask ConCourt to jail Zuma if found in contempt of court

In the statement, Zuma said he stands by his previous word not to appear before the commission. He continued: "and no amount of intimidation or blackmail will change my position as I firmly believe that we should never allow for the establishment of a judiciary in which justice, fairness and due process are discretionary and are exclusively preserved for certain litigants and not others."

He said:

"The Zondo Commission has today (Monday) again showed how it is short of the attributes necessary to conduct an independent, fair and impartial investigation or hearings that involve me or that contradict their script on state capture."

Zuma accused commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of wanting to "turn all narratives against me into evidence".

'Playing politics to influence public opinion'

He said evidence leader Paul Pretorius had "presented what Deputy Chief Justice Zondo literally called evidence against me. Realizing that they had forfeited the opportunity to present the evidence to me, they did what has become their hallmark at the Commission in making submissions to each other and playing politics to influence public opinion."

Zuma warned that Zondo "could mislead to the nation" regarding Zuma's role in allegations of state capture. 

READ | 'Hands off Zuma' - Ace Magashule comes to former president's defence over ConCourt order defiance

"Those who know the truth will know that when my legal team made this reference, it was in the context of an example and suggestion of how a more responsible way forward could be found.

"The Deputy Chief Justice concluded by saying my contempt constitute grounds for him to approach to the Constitutional Court to seek a sentence. Of course he will get it. I am not certain that ordinarily that is how contempt proceedings would commence, but I have accepted that Deputy Chief Justice Zondo and due process and the law are estranged."

He explained that he took the decision to not appear before the inquiry "not to undermine the Constitution but to vindicate it, in the face of what I view as a few in the judiciary that have long left their constitutional station to join political battles".

He added: "Fed with absolute lies, the Constitutional Court assumed that I or my legal team had threatened that I would defy or refuse to answer.

"You only have to peruse the records of the date of the recusal application to know that my legal team was at pains to suggest a responsible way forward. The submission by the Commission that a threat was made that I would defy or refuse to answer is a blatant falsehood fabricated..."

He went on to say: "I stand by my reservations and that the Commission was conceptualised as part of the campaign and sponsored multi-sectoral collaboration to remove me from office.

Zuma said the inquiry is not interested in upholding the Constitution, but rather wanted to see him "lynched and punished".

He said: "I demand no more than justice, fairness and impartiality, all of which are attributes we should not have to remind some of our judges to possess. They promised the country they possessed these attributes the day they applied for judicial office and took their oath of office. We should not have to remind some of them of this."

Elsewhere, Zuma said he was grateful to those who have supported him. "I am grateful for their support and their courage to stand with me rather than to appease, at my expense, those who seek to control our economy, judiciary and our country."

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