Just 20 minutes before the ruling on former president Jacob Zuma’s application to have State Capture Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Raymond Zondo recuse himself from the inquiry was to be announced, the commission issued a statement confirming that it had been postponed.
It would now take place on Thursday morning at 10am.
The commission said Zuma furnished it with a statement which Zondo “needs to consider”. Zondo was scheduled to rule on the recusal application at 3pm on Wednesday.
— State Capture Commission (@StateCaptureCom) November 18, 2020
Zuma would not have been able to attend Wednesday’s recusal, as he had a funeral to attend, the commission heard on Monday.
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His application for Zondo to recuse himself came after an exchange between the commission’s secretary, Itumeleng Mosala, and Zuma’s attorney Eric Mabuza.
Mosala, in a letter, cautioned Mabuza to advise whether Zuma would adhere to the summons issued to him at Nkandla on 22 October, calling for him to appear before the commission on Monday 16 November.
Mabuza criticised the tone of the letter and accused the commission of “bullying” the former president.
In September, a scathing letter was written to Zondo, in which Zuma’s lawyers said the focus and “hallmark” of the commission’s approach was to “target” Zuma.
His legal team said Zondo “is no longer capable of exercising an independent and impartial mind”.
Muzi Sikhakhane, for Zuma, emphasised that the recusal was not based on the allegations that Zondo had prejudged Zuma, but rather that comments made during proceedings targeted Zuma unfairly.
He said that the recusal was necessary in order for Zuma to give evidence, and refuted reports that Zuma never had any intention of refusing to appear before the commission.
He added that should Zuma be forced to take the stand, he may opt not to disclose any information.
Zuma also alleged in papers earlier this week that he and Zondo were friends, a statement vehemently denied by Zondo.
The statement was branded as “not accurate”, with Zondo saying they did not socialise, and only met at governmental functions.
Sikhakhane said on Tuesday that Zuma planned to put a statement on record which would potentially dispute Zondo’s recollection of events, as well as the alleged friendship.
“We will try and give the chair the version of the relationship the two of you had from his perspective … Because there may be things he may have thought are not relevant and you’ve placed them on record and he needs to put his own version,” Sikhakhane told the commission.
Updates to follow as more information is made available.
Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by News24 Wire and Bernadette Wicks.