The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture submitted to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Tuesday that its chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had “bent over backwards” to accommodate former president Jacob Zuma for him to testify at the inquiry, and that Zuma’s response had been that of “belligerence”, “defiance” and “contempt”.
The secretary of the commission, Itumeleng Mosala, filed an urgent application with the court for it to compel Zuma to comply with a summons against him that he testify at the inquiry next year.
Responding to a question whether the commission had created the matter of urgency by failing to use its powers, such as a summons, to get Zuma to testify at the inquiry between January and September, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, for the commission, said it was not the case that urgency was “self-created” by the commission.
Ngcukaitobi pointed out that after Zuma withdrew from the commission in July 2019, an agreement was reached with the former president that he should file a substantive affidavit dealing with outlined areas of interest but he had failed to do so.
This was followed by the commission issuing further dates for Zuma to testify. However, the former president’s attorneys rejected these, saying they could not be determined “unilaterally”, Ngcukaitobi said.
The commission could not sit for three months of the hard lockdown in 2020 and soon after its proceedings resumed, Zuma was issued with a regulation 10 (6) notice, which “comes at the back of more than 30 rule 3.3 notices”, which the former president had ignored, Ngcukaitobi said.
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Zuma was in September issued with another regulation 10 (6) notice “compelling Mr Zuma to issue an affidavit in response to evidence that implicates him”.
“There is again no response. So it is not a fair characterisation of the evidence that there is a deafening silence,” Ngcuikatobi said.
A summons was then issued against Zuma, whose attorneys “played hide and seek about whether or not he will appear” and they eventually applied for Zondo’s recusal, Ngcukaitobi said.
“But that application for a recusal comes very late in the process. So, if one actually looks at the totality of the pictures, Justice Madlanga, the commission has employed five strategies to get Mr Zuma to account,” Ngcukaitobi said.
This, Ngcukaitobi said, indicated that Zondo had “bent over backwards” in an attempt to accommodate Zuma and the deputy chief justice had even been accommodative when the former president could not testify due to medical reasons.
Zuma had, however, responded to Zondo’s efforts with “belligerence”, “defiance” and “contempt”, Ngcukaitobi said
Ngcukaitobi said Zuma and his legal team’s goal was “to run out the time until the commission’s tenure finishes”.
“If he runs out the time successfully, in March next year, the commission’s life will be over, Mr Zuma would have avoided accounting for his alleged criminal behaviour while in office.”