'I dispute we were not friends‚ we met several times': Zuma on Zondo

Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry in Johannesburg.
Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry in Johannesburg.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

State capture inquiry chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday again delayed handing down judgment on the recusal application against him by former president Jacob Zuma.

The latest delay‚ the commission said in a statement‚ was due to Zuma's response to the opening statement made by Zondo at the hearings on Monday.

Zuma‚ in a responding affidavit‚ has contradicted Zondo’s assertion that they are “not friends” and never interacted or socialised privately outside official duty.

Zondo now plans to give his ruling on Thursday morning.

After the arguments on Monday‚ Zondo had promised to issue the ruling on Tuesday morning but he postponed that for Wednesday morning before delaying it to the afternoon and then Thursday.

Zuma wants Zondo to recuse himself from hearing his evidence‚ arguing that the chairperson is conflicted due to their personal and professional history and the comments he has made against Zuma during oral testimonies by witnesses implicating him.

The commission said Zondo was now considering Zuma’s response to his “we are not friends” statement made on Monday.

“This morning Mr Zuma furnished the commission with a statement/affidavit which the chairperson needs to consider‚” Prof Itumeleng Mosala‚ secretary of the commission‚ said in a statement on Wednesday.

Zuma‚ in the affidavit‚ contradicted Zondo’s version on Monday.

The former president argued that Zondo was in fact conflicted from ruling on the matter after his statement on Monday.

On Zondo’s claims that he had “never” set foot in Zuma’s presidential office or official home‚ the former president disputed this.

“As a matter of fact‚ soon after the chairperson had been selected by the chief justice‚ I held a briefing meeting with him at the official residence in Durban‚” said Zuma.

Zuma‚ who was first to reveal he had historical personal relations with Zondo‚ said he had deliberately not divulged the nature of them.

But after Zondo‚ first through a public statement and at the commission on Monday decided to delve into the issues‚ Zuma said this made the issue relevant.

Zuma said it was intriguing that Zondo on Monday omitted details he had revealed in his public statement about their personal links.

“It is not clear to me why the chairperson originally declared this piece of information through the commission and yet chooses to omit it in his statement that he read into the record.”

But for Zuma‚ what was more bizarre in Zondo’s statement was his “we are not friends” claim which‚ according to him‚ was not true.

“I dispute that we were never friends‚” Zuma charged. “In fact‚ in our discussion at my residence in Forest Town ... we discussed‚ among other things‚ how our friendship‚ if not managed properly‚ could jeopardise his judicial ambitions or rise within the ranks of the judiciary.”

Zuma added that he in fact did not meet Zondo once at his Forest Town residence but “several times” including during the time that he was deputy president of the country because “it was our meeting place”.

For Zuma‚ it was “interesting” that Zondo‚ even on the one occasion he admitted to them meeting‚ omitted details about that meeting.

“I submit that at one of our meetings we discussed his proposal about how our friendship should be managed.”

 

Deputy Chief Justice delivered judgement on an application for his recusal from the State Capture Commission, brought forward by former president Jacob Zuma on November 19 2020. But things took a turn after the former president left the commission during an adjournment.

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