Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer insists he can only be legally obliged to appear at the inquiry after his Constitutional Court review application has been determined
By Samkelo Mtshali and Loyiso Sidimba
FORMER president Jacob Zuma will again not be making an appearance at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, this time blaming an application to set aside the Deputy Chief Justice’s refusal to recuse himself from the hearings.
Zuma informed the commission through his attorney that he would not be appearing at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday.
The news came after the commission’s secretary, Itumeleng Mosala, wrote to Zuma earlier this week informing him to present himself from next Monday until Friday, even though a decision was pending from the Constitutional Court.
The commission had approached the highest court in the land to compel Zuma to answer questions after he was implicated in testimonies by several witnesses.
This happened at a time when Zuma had made an application to review and set aside Justice Zondo’s refusal to recuse himself from the hearing because the former president said they were friends.
“The review application is yet to be determined by the court. In our respectful view, president Zuma can only be legally obliged to appear after his review application has been determined,” said Zuma’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza.
Mabuza also said that Zuma wanted to wait for the outcome of the decision of the Constitutional Court.
“We again place on record what we have previously stated regarding how the commission continues to display conduct that shows clear bias against president Zuma. In this instance, the commission now seeks to undermine a pending Constitutional Court judgment in pursuance of president Zuma,” Mabuza said.
“Please be reminded that president Zuma enjoys no lesser rights than any other citizen of this country and the commission has no powers whatsoever to act in a way that undermines president Zuma’s constitutional rights.”
Justice Zondo said during the commission’s hearing that he acknowledged Zuma’s letter to the commission.
Former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe meanwhile appeared at the commission on Friday and used the opportunity to attack President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He accused him of being used by mining giant Glencore for political protection and influence.
Molefe told the commission of inquiry that Ramaphosa was aware of what Glencore wanted when it made him chairperson of Optimum Coal Mine (OCM) in 2012, after it acquired the company that it would later sell on to the controversial fugitive Gupta family.
“Ramaphosa must have know about what Glencore sought to achieve, he was the chairperson of a company that was bought without a due diligence, he was chairperson when the penalties were imposed, he was still chairperson of OCM when the unlawful agreement that sought to increase the price of coal from R150 and set aside the penalties was negotiated with certain members of Eskom staff in 2014,” Molefe testified.
He was referring to the R2 billion in penalties that Eskom issued to Glencore.
”He knew that he was being used for his political standing and hoped to influence matters in Glencore’s favour,” said Molefe. “He is not naïve and has been dealing with corporates which gave him his riches.”
Molefe’s testimony is not the first time the claims about Ramaphosa using his political clout to favour Glencore have been made.
In his 2016 book Murder At Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre, photojournalist Greg Marinovich writes that an interviewee who wanted to remain anonymous told him that a Glencore executive informed business partners that: “I don’t want to be crude, but we made him”, and that Shanduka Coal, which was Ramaphosa’s company at the time, was Glencore’s front.
When the book was published, Ramaphosa was the country’s deputy president and his office denied the claims.
Molefe said that mere mortals like him simply do not stand a chance when they pit themselves against these powerful forces who were trying to extort R8bn from a state-owned entity, Eskom.
The R8bn is what Glencore’s demand that Eskom increase the price of coal per ton from R150 to R530 would have cost the power utility over three years and the writing off of R2bn in penalties incurred by the company.
Molefe also expressed his displeasure at ex-Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for her 2016 state of capture report that led to the establishment of the commission.
“It is clear that Glencore had unfettered access to Thuli Madonsela and were able to impress on her what their beef with Eskom was,” he said.
Molefe accused Madonsela of not bothering to interview him for his side of the story as required by the Public Protector Act.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, hears evidence during a sitting of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Molefe could not complete his testimony on Friday after Justice Zondo announced that an official working closely with him tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the country’s second most senior judge to self-isolate.
– Political Bureau