The chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday accepted former president Jacob Zuma’s offer to view confidential information about his medical condition which has prevented the latter to appear before the commission.
Zondo said he “with some reluctance” accepted the offer to meet with the leader of Zuma’s medical team, who will in confidence convey to him information that may assist in understanding the medical reasons relating to the former president’s failure to appear before the commission.
Zondo said the medical practitioner would also outline when there would be no medical reasons for Zuma not to appear before the commission.
It is hoped that the consultation with the medical practitioner will assist in determining dates when Zuma’s medical condition would not prevent him from appearing before the commission, Zondo said.
“It has been accepted that with regards to this 27th to the 31st of January, the former president need not appear before the commission because of the medical reasons he has given,” Zondo said.
Zondo said the commission’s legal team will deliver a replying affidavit on or before January 24, in response to the answering papers filed by Zuma’s legal team to the application for an order to issue a summons.
“So, this application will then stand adjourned to a date that will be arranged at the right time,” Zondo said.
Zuma’s legal representative, senior counsel Thabani Masuku pointed out that Zuma has indicated unequivocally that he was willing to appear before the commission.
Ahead of the adjournment when counsel for the commission’s legal team and for Zuma met with Zondo in chambers to discuss a way forward regarding the application, the commission heard that due to the former president’s medical condition, Zuma would only be available in March.
On the resumption of the commission on Tuesday, Zondo was expected to hear an application put forward by the commission’s legal team to issue an order that Zuma is summoned to appear.
Had Zondo issued the order for Zuma to be summoned to appear before the commission, the former president would have been summoned to appear from January 27 to 31.
Zuma’s appearance before the commission last year was postponed due to his medical condition, and Zondo pointed out on Tuesday that he had not asked for a medical certificate to confirm this but “accepted his word”.
Zondo further indicated that now the former president has offered to make available to him confidential information regarding Zuma’s medical condition.
However, Zondo said should he decide to view the said confidential information, he would be uncomfortable when doing so.
“I just want to say at this stage, I think it’s a good thing that he has offered without being compelled by anybody to make that information available to the chairperson. I may have to see what he offers to let me see but if I do so, I will not be doing so without any reluctance,” Zondo said.
The head of the commission’s legal team, advocate Paul Pretorius said that according to answering papers to the application to issue an order for Zuma to be summoned, it was indicated that Zuma would not be available until March as he was receiving medical attention in the country and abroad.
Pretorius told Zondo that in the answering papers, Zuma’s legal team also challenged the chair’s right to issues summons.
Zuma’s legal team further launched a number of attacks on the integrity of the commission and the members of its legal team based on incorrect facts, Pretorius said.
Pretorius added that the legal team was still seeking that a summons was issued but which would be appropriate in accordance with the former president’s medical condition.
Masuku urged the commission to extend to the former president the “presumption of integrity” and accept as the truth that he, Zuma, could not currently appear before the commission due to his medical condition.
Masuku also took issue with the media statement issued by the commission last week which announced that Zondo would hear an application to issue an order that Zuma should be summoned, saying the statement exposed the former president to numerous attacks, including ones that are political in nature, and unpleasant comments in the media, which was concerning considering the former president’s medical condition.
Masuku indicated that a medical team responsible for Zuma’s treatment was willing to meet with Zondo and no one else to give details on the former president’s condition.