Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
19 Nov 2020
2:03 pm

TBT: Remember when Zuma asked witnesses to cooperate with Zondo Commission?

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

The former president did not know he would be the one to end up walking out of the commission without the chair's permission.

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture Neil McCartney

In January 2018, then president Jacob Zuma announced his decision to establish the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture following recommendations by then public protector Thuli Madonsela.

The North Gauteng High Court had, on 14 December 2017, ruled that remedial action of the public protector was binding, giving Zuma 30 days to appoint a commission.

The court had also ordered that the commission be headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, an order Zuma said he did not agree with.

Following the judgment, Mogoeng appointed Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

During his announcement of the establishment of the commission, Zuma urged everyone who would appear to cooperate with the chairperson.

Zuma said at the time: “I have decided to appoint a commission of inquiry. The court ordered that among other things that remedial action of the public protector is binding and that the president is directed to appoint a commission of inquiry within 30 days, headed by a judge solely selected by the chief justice.

“The allegations that the state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners – the people of South Africa – is of paramount importance and are therefore deserving of finality and certainty.

“I urge everyone to cooperate with the commission of inquiry. I trust that we will all respect the process and place no impediments to prevent the commission from doing its work.”

Watch the announcement below:

But things have gone downhill since then, with Zuma now seeking Zondo’s recusal from the commission and his legal team arguing the former president has been targeted in the hearings.

Zondo “is no longer capable of exercising an independent and impartial mind”, argued his lawyers.

Muzi Sikhakhane, for Zuma, said at the commission on Monday that certain comments made by Zondo during proceedings made Zuma feel as though he was being unfairly persecuted. 

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. 

On Thursday morning, Zondo dismissed Zuma’s application, and said the applicant was given fair opportunity to come before the commission to give and/or to present his evidence.

READ MORE: Zuma runs to JSC after Zondo recusal rejection

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