The chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has ruled that the commission is set to sign and issue a subpoena against former president Jacob Zuma to appear before the commission at 10am on 16 November.
Failure to comply with a directive of the chairperson, without sufficient cause is a “criminal offence”, Zondo said on Friday.
This comes after Zondo said last month that he would not negotiate with Zuma and his legal team on the dates that the former president should testify at the commission.
Zuma had failed to appeared before the commission as the former president was preparing for his arms deal court matter, according to a letter by his lawyers.
The letter also explained that doctors had advised that because of Zuma’s age in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, he should limit his movements and that he was seeking legal advice regarding the amendments of the commission’s regulations.
The matter prompted Zondo to determine that Zuma would have to appear before the commission from 16 to 20 November.
Hearing an application for the authorisation for a subpoena against Zuma on Friday, evidence leader Paul Pretorius explained that Zuma could not refuse to appear before the commission according to law, which empowered Zondo to summon witnesses.
“It is important for Mr Zuma to appear before the commission as most of the corruption alleged took place when he was the country’s president,” Pretorius said.
“Thirty four witnesses have implicated Mr Zuma so he is required to come and deal with these allegations. The commission is obliged to carry out its duties.”
The application was heard despite Zuma’s lawyers not being available.
The deputy chief justice noted that the former president’s lawyers have already submitted an affidavit to oppose the application.
“I am giving Mr Zuma the opportunity to clear his name, but if he does not want to, he still has to come answer before commission,” Zondo said.
Zondo recommended that Zuma could testify via video or audio link, which has been approved as a suitable means to allow him to give evidence.
“I don’t have a problem with Mr Zuma saying, due to Covid-19, he would prefer to give evidence via video link, as long as it’s within the borders of South Africa,” he added.
On Thursday, the Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Mhlanganyelwa Zuma Foundation issued a statement noting “with concern” an application by the commission served on Zuma’s lawyers on Monday.
The foundation said the application served on Zuma on Monday “is nothing, but a ruse, whose outcome has been clearly predetermined”, adding that it hopes that the public sees the commission “and its evidence leaders for what they are”, which it said is “a political process parading as a legal process”.
The foundation said the commission’s alleged continued biased conduct against Zuma “affirms our apprehension of bias as previously alleged”.