Zondo commission: Zuma concerned about narrative he 'messed up our country'

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma arrives Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma arrives Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg.
GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP
  • Former president Jacob Zuma appeared before the Zondo commission on Monday to show that he will never defy Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, according to his lawyer.
  • Zuma's lawyer added that Zuma viewed the commission as part of a narrative in which he is viewed as the one who "messed up the country".
  • Zuma wants Zondo to recuse himself.

Corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma is concerned that the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture is part of a narrative in which he is painted as "the man who messed up our country", his lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane, told the commission on Monday morning.

The commission with Zuma's application for Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Raymond Zondo's recusal as chairperson.

Zondo read a statement into the record in which he acknowledged that he knew Zuma but denied that they shared a close, personal friendship.

Zuma attended proceedings to, according to Sikhakhane, show Zondo that he was never going to defy him.

Sikhakhane also submitted that the recusal application was not an attack on Zondo's integrity.

"Recusal proceedings are brought to a judge because you trust him," he said.

He said there was a narrative that Zuma was an accused and that people thought: "Here is the man who messed up our country."

Zuma viewed the commission as something that furthered this narrative, he said.

Most people believe what we should do for my client is give him orange overalls and take him to Kgosi Mampuru Prison.

Some of Zondo's comments during testimony "raised concerns", he added.

"There have been times even I was thinking the DCJ crossed the line," Sikhakhane said.

He also submitted that some of Zondo's comments made Zuma "believe, reasonably, that this forum is not good for him".

Zondo explained that when he started his career, he often appeared before presiding officers who didn't say a word during his arguments, leaving him unsure whether they understood him. He preferred presiding officers who engaged in debate so that he could test his arguments.

He said he made remarks so that people implicated would know what he was thinking and could address it when they appeared before him.

"It's meant as part of transparency," he said.

The commission then broke for tea.

Sikhakhane is currently continuing with his argument.

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