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Zuma set to interdict Zondo commission

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Former president Jacob Zuma is resolute that he will not testify if the commission’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has not recused himself

Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/ANA

INDEPENDENT Media has reliably learnt that former president Jacob Zuma, through his lawyers, will on Thursday interdict the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture.

Zuma is demanding that the commission’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself from chairing the commission when he returns to the inquiry on November 16.

According to sources inside the “Zuma camp”, Justice Zondo’s media briefing to demand that Zuma appear at the commission struck a live wire with the former president. According to the sources, Zuma is resolute that he will not testify if Zondo has not recused himself.

Zuma’s move is the first for the two-year long inquiry.

Last week alone, four public statements were issued condemning Zondo for summoning Zuma to appear before the commission.

The first volley was fired by the Gauteng RET President Zuma support group which claimed that Justice Zondo has never seen it fit before to address arrangements for witnesses through media conferences, but saw it fit “to target Zuma for such special, disrespectful, treatment”.

The supporters alleged that while Justice Zondo decided to humiliate Zuma and his lawyers by calling a press conference, he has never done the same to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who has an outstanding appearance before the inquiry.

“Evidently the commission has specific persons that it is targeting and the appearance of witnesses before the commission are not equal-opportunity moments.

“It is evident that the prime target that the commission and its chair have in their crosshairs, and are literally hunting down, is president Zuma,” the supporters claimed.

While things between Justice Zondo and Zuma are at their most tense, lawyers for the EFF have written to the commission asking it to mete out the same treatment to Gordhan as he missed a date he negotiated himself.

“We understand that the commission has provided Mr Zuma with non-negotiable dates for his attendance as well as a hearing for a summons to be issued against him for his attendance. We humbly request that the commission deal with Mr Gordhan in the same fashion that it is dealing with Mr Zuma and insist on dates for his attendance and a hearing for a summons to be issued for his attendance as soon as possible,” the EFF lawyers asked.

Justice Zondo has since not granted former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane permission to cross-examine Gordhan.

Adding its voice, the Jacob Zuma Foundation has accused him of using Zuma as a ladder to clinch the position of chief justice when it becomes vacant next year. Moreover, they said the “attacks on Zuma were unjustified and prejudicial”.

“We respect the judiciary but remind the chairperson that he is not above the law himself and that he must be consistent in how he deals with witnesses and implicated persons. No witness, even the most arrogant and the most petulant, have inspired the chairperson to call a media briefing merely to castigate them,” the foundation said.

The foundation has declined to comment on the now very clear battle between Justice Zondo and Zuma, saying that will be best answered by Zuma’s lawyers.

Spokesperson of the commission, the Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela, said Justice Zondo was not going to respond to the accusations. “The DCJ (deputy chief justice) does not intend to respond to or comment on the statements” said Stemela yesterday.

Spokesperson for Gordhan, Sam Mkokeli, did not respond to questions on when Gordhan may be returning to the commission.