Johannesburg – South Africans are likely to know today whether state capture inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will recuse himself from hearing former president Jacob Zuma’s testimony.
Zondo on Monday heard arguments from Zuma’s legal representatives on why he should not preside over the commission when Zuma testifies.
Proceedings began with Zondo reading a statement in which he outlined his every past interaction with the former president.
As Zuma sat and listened, Zondo said they had never been friends.
“That is not accurate,” Zondo said, as he recounted the times over the past two-and-a-half decades that the pair’s paths had crossed.
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Zondo said he paid his respects when one of Zuma’s wives died “18 or 20 years ago”, but Zuma had never attended any of his family funerals or events, such as birthday celebrations.
In 1996, a year before he became a judge, he had met with Zuma because he was representing a client as a lawyer who wanted to bring an application against him.
However, Zondo said, he never brought the application because he was then appointed to the Bench.
He added that Zuma had never previously sought his recusal from the bench in any of the matters involving the former head of state.
Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, for ZumaAmong, argued that the reason Zuma wanted Zondo to recuse himself was that the commission’s line-up of witnesses gave Zuma the impression that Zondo was supporting their version of state capture.
Sikhakhane told Zondo he had made all-too-human “mistakes” in the manner in which he responded to the testimony of those implicating Zuma in state capture.
State Capture Inquiry Chairperson, Raymond Zondo is questioning the feasibility of recusing himself because he is the inquiry’s sole member. But Jacob Zuma’s lawyer isn’t buying that argument. Muzi Sikhakhane says if he doesn’t recuse himself, the matter will be taken taken further. Evidence Leader, Paul Pretorius, says there’s not enough evidence to support the allegations of bias. Political analyst,…
This had led the former president to believe he would be entering “a slaughterhouse” should he take the stand.
In his papers, Zuma said: “The following witnesses were selected to the exclusion of other Cabinet members that could have stated a contrary version: Pravin Gordhan (then public enterprises minister); Mcebisi Jonas (former deputy finance minister); Nhlanhla Nene (former finance minister); Ngoako Ramatlhodi (former minister mineral resources; Vytjie Mentor (former ANC MP); Trevor Manuel (former finance minister); Barbara Hogan; and Themba Maseko (former head of government communication and information systems and Fikile Mbalula.”
However, he did not specify which particular submissions the commission allegedly ignored.
Sikhakhane also denied allegations that Zuma had refused to appear before the commission, saying the former president failed to appear in September last year due to ill-health.
He also pointed out that Zuma had had to change his legal team. In his reply to the recusal application, evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius said Zuma did not make any claims of bias by the chairperson against him.
He denied claims that the commission only summoned people who were hostile towards Zuma.
“Among the 257 witnesses who appeared before the commission included Duduzane Zuma – the son of the former president. Dudu Myeni, Nomvula Mokonyane and many others who were not hostile to Mr Zuma,” Pretorius said. He urged Zondo to reject the application.