Zuma vs Zondo: Foundation takes aim at inquiry's chairperson, slams plan to issue summonses

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Former President Jacob Zuma before the Zondo Commission in 2019 (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)
Former President Jacob Zuma before the Zondo Commission in 2019 (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)
Felix Dlangamandla
  • Former president Jacob Zuma has launched another attack against Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
  • This time the Zuma Foundation has questioned the legality of an application for a summons against the former president.
  • The summons application will be heard on Friday. 

"The Zondo commission on state capture is nothing but a bastardisation of legal processes to achieve political ends for those who pull the strings from behind," the Jacob Zuma Foundation says.

In its strongly-worded statement, the foundation questioned the legality of an application by the commission's chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to compel acting secretary Bridgitte Shabalala to issue a summons to compel Zuma to appear before it to answer questions. 

The foundation also called him out for issuing a notice to Zuma four days before the scheduled application for a summons.

"This is done at this late stage and a few days before an already set date for this pre-determined application." 

MUST READ | Zuma won't attend state capture commission until 'biased' Zondo recuses himself

Zondo gave Zuma new "non-negotiable" dates to appear before the commission. The dates are 16 to 20 November 2020. 

The foundation said:

"We stated in our previous statement that the original application related to the time when president Zuma was abroad to seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, the chairperson refused to believe that president Zuma was genuinely ill and sought to meet his doctor, an undertaking he has failed to meet."

"It is unprecedented for a judge to appoint himself to go and meet doctors to prove that indeed former president was sick, he was not telling lies. A question that the legal team might need to deal with is whether the chairperson of the commission can informally nullify his own ruling and simply move on."

READ | Karyn Maughan: Jacob Zuma's hide and seek with the Zondo commission

Last month, Zuma's lawyers wrote to Zondo and asked him to recuse himself due to his "biased disposition" towards the former head of state.

In a letter drafted by his legal team, Mabuza Attorneys, Zuma stated at the time that he was of the view that he had been "targeted" by the commission.

Investigate

This was shortly after Zondo had announced the new dates for Zuma to appear at the commission.

In 2016, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recommended that Zuma establish a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of state capture. Zuma applied to take this on review.  

The application was not successful and a court ruled that Zuma (as the then president) should appoint the commission, with the Chief Justice appointing a chairperson.

In June 2017, Zuma wished Zondo well when confirming his appointment as Deputy Chief Justice, to succeed Dikgang Moseneke who was retiring.

In 2018, he appointed the commission and approved Zondo's nomination of Zondo as the commission's chairperson.

READ | A timeline of Zuma’s relationship with the Zondo commission

Zuma has appeared once at the commission, last July, where he made claims regarding some ANC members being spies and plotting a character assassination against him. He said he would reveal who they were on a "rainy day".

Since then, he has not been able to appear due to "ill health" and needing time to prepare for his appearance.

"We are utterly disappointed with this back-hand approach by such an important legal forum. It confirms our fear that this commission seeks to prejudice president Zuma in every respect," the foundation continued.

"This new application is nothing but a ruse, whose outcome has been clearly predetermined. We hope the public can see this commission and its evidence leaders for what they are. A political process parading as a legal process," the foundation said, adding that the application for a summons against Zuma was regrettable.

"The continued biased conducted by the commission of inquiry into state capture and its chairperson against president Zuma affirms our apprehension of bias as previously alleged," the foundation said.

Meanwhile, Zuma supporters have marched to the commission to call for the chairperson's removal.

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