Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Friday issued a summons for former president Jacob Zuma to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture at 10 am between November 16 and 20, 2020.
Zondo said he was satisfied with the submissions of the commission’s legal team that this is a matter in which he should run the application to summon Zuma to appear before the inquiry.
Zondo had issued the directive in hearing the arguments in September when Zuma was scheduled to appear at the inquiry. Zuma did not appear and instead sent a letter to the commission expressing his inability to appear, and indicating that he would like to negotiate new dates for his appearance.
The request was rejected by Zondo who said the inquiry did not negotiate dates with witnesses.
Advocate Paul Pretorius, for the commission’s legal team, addressed Deputy Justice Raymond Zondo on Friday on the matter at hand – the application for an order authorising the commission’s secretary to issue Zuma a summons to appeal at the commission.
Pretorius read a letter from Zuma’s lawyers which stated that he would not be participating in the hearing until Zondo recuses himself as Zuma believes Zondo has already found him guilty of state capture.
Advocate Pretorius told Zondo that 34 witnesses who have appeared at the commission have implicated Zuma and he is required to address the allegations.
Zuma and his legal team had also argued that there were grounds for him not to appear before the commission, because it clashed with his preparations for his criminal trial in the High Court.
Pretorius disagreed: “Our submission is that it’s not a good enough reason to refuse to appear. But if the former president does believe it is, you chair [Zondo] will exercise your discretion in terms of your mandate. You will exercise your discretion in terms of the directives that govern your chairing of the commission.
“If he believes there are grounds not to appear on a particular date, he’s free to raise those with you – but not those general terms,” argued Pretoruis.
The commission needs to complete its work by the end of December, said Pretorius, to enable Zondo to write his report by March next year.
Zondo recalled some of the previous testimony heard at the commission, particularly the evidence presented by former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, who he said was replaced as finance minister by Des van Rooyen, to take up a post at the BRICS bank.
From evidence heard at the commission, Zondo questioned how the Guptas knew about these developments beforehand.
Zondo also made reference to the alleged offers of the Cabinet positions by the Guptas to Mcebisi Jonas and Vytjie Mentor, who have appeared before the commission. This all happened during Zuma’s term as president.
Zondo said, “How can I ignore all those things? I’m doing my job to establish exactly what happened, so that I can prepare a report that is based on evidence that has been presented by a cross-section of people.
“And if he is implicated, I’m giving him an opportunity to come here and clear his name, but I want to know what he has to say about those things. He might say he doesn’t want to clear his name, that’s fine, but I want to know what he knows about the things that have been said,” said Zondo.