Former president Jacob Zuma has launched another salvo in deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo’s direction, challenging his Monday statement that the two were never friends, and accusing him of cherry-picking his disclosures. In an affidavit submitted to the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday - and as part of his application for Zondo to recuse himself as chair - Zuma insisted the two had shared a close relationship. And he claimed that Zondo’s romance with one of Zuma’s now sisters-in-law in the 1990s - together with the child it had born - had only made this relationship “even closer…
Former president Jacob Zuma has launched another salvo in deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo’s direction, challenging his Monday statement that the two were never friends, and accusing him of cherry-picking his disclosures.
In an affidavit submitted to the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday – and as part of his application for Zondo to recuse himself as chair – Zuma insisted the two had shared a close relationship. And he claimed that Zondo’s romance with one of Zuma’s now sisters-in-law in the 1990s – together with the child it had born – had only made this relationship “even closer and family in nature”.
A ruling on Zuma’s application for Zondo’s recusal had been expected on Wednesday afternoon, but his affidavit threw a spanner in the works, leaving the application’s fate – and potentially that of the entire commission – up in the air for another day.
The commission issued a statement, saying Zondo needed more time to consider the affidavit. A ruling is, however, now expected on Thursday.
In the meantime, it’s clear that Zuma is not backing down.
In his recusal application, he described his relationship with Zondo as a “relatively close” and “personal” – going as far as to say they had been “friends” – and claimed they had “constantly met on social occasions and [at] public gatherings that were organised by the government” as well as that Zondo had visited his house “on several occasions”.
He even said after Zondo had been appointed as a judge, the two had discussed whether or not their relationship would jeopardize his career.
But in his statement on Monday – which he read out before arguments in the application got underway – Zondo painted a very different picture of the situation.
He said he had never been to Zuma’s official residence and denied having discussed whether their relationship would jeopardize his career after being elevated to the bench, saying Zuma was at the time not president – “and only an MEC” – so could not have influenced his career in any case.
In the affidavit submitted yesterday, though, Zuma wasn’t budging and highlighted a briefing meeting he said they had at his official residence in Durban after the deputy chief justice was appointed as chair of the commission of inquiry.
He was also unwavering on their alleged discussion about the potential impact of their relationship on Zondo’s career as a judge, and said this had taken place at his Forest Town home in Johannesburg – which Zondo has admitted to having visited but only on two occasions.
“I understand that in referring to me as “only an MEC,” the chairperson is attempting to downplay my role in order to demonstrate that he couldn’t have relied on me for his ascendancy,” a seemingly irked Zuma said,
“It is common cause that at the time I was also national chairperson of the ANC and the provincial chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. These were indeed positions of influence in the ruling party, the ANC. Accordingly, his attempt to communicate that I was insignificant in the national political arena is untrue”.
He accused Zondo of being “less than candid” and said he could not deny this discussion – adding further the deputy chief justice had been “selective” with what he chose to put on the record and pointing to the fact that he had not mentioned his familial ties to the former president on Monday. This despite the fact that he did confirm as much in a previous statement.
Zuma filed his recusal application last week, after Zondo ordered he be subpoenaed to appear before him.
Zuma last year appeared for five days before withdrawing his co-operation. He eventually capitulated but was then a no-show at subsequent scheduled appearances – with his lawyers blaming his ill-health saying he was busy preparing for his upcoming criminal trial in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
He was present during Monday’s and Tuesday’s.but not during yesterday’s ((WE)), due to a death in the family.
Whether or not he will be present on Thursday remains to be seen.
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