It's in SA's best interest for Zuma to appear before state capture inquiry, says Gauteng ANC

The ANC's Gauteng secretary says it is in the best interests of SA and the party for Jacob Zuma to appear before the state capture inquiry. File photo.
The ANC's Gauteng secretary says it is in the best interests of SA and the party for Jacob Zuma to appear before the state capture inquiry. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Former president Jacob Zuma’s defiance about appearing before the state capture inquiry is doing more harm than good, says ANC provincial secretary Jacob Khawe. 

He was addressing the media during a courtesy visit at the home of the late anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Rebecca Kotane in Soweto, where President Cyril Ramaphosa will relay condolence messages to the Kotane family on behalf of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC).

Asked to comment on Zuma’s defiance, Khawe said the province held one view: “Our position has always been consistent. It is that we prefer to have engagements with a member of the organisation.

“And that’s what we are going to do - to ask the former president to come to the provincial executive committee (PEC) to have a broad discussion about challenges of the ANC and challenges of building a country protecting constitutional democracy.

“All we can say for now is that it is in the best interests of our country and the ANC for Zuma to appear before the commission. We think it will also give him an opportunity to be heard so we don't judge him from far, we judge him from listening to him,” he said.

On Monday, Zuma said he would not co-operate with the inquiry despite the apex court's ruling compelling him to do so. He said he did not fear imprisonment should his decision  be considered a violation of the law, a move which has been heavily criticised and caused division in the party.

Among his critics is the ANC in the Eastern Cape, which has publicly called for him to be suspended from the party. 

Meanwhile, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has come out in support of Zuma.

Speaking at the Kotane home on Wednesday, Magashule said Zuma had done nothing wrong, calling those advocating for his removal from the party “populists”.

“Why should we suspend a person who believes in what he believes? Why should we call him to order when he’s done nothing wrong? There is no structure of the ANC, be it a province or region, which can call for Zuma to be disciplined. They are out of order. They are populists who always try to do this, and the ANC is quiet about these populists who like to appear in the media.”

Days after Zuma’s defiance, EFF leader Julius Malema reached out to the former president requesting a meeting over tea, which Zuma accepted and invited him to his multimillion-rand Nkandla homestead on Friday. 

It was not immediately clear what the agenda of the meeting would be, but speculation was rife that Malema would try to convince him to appear before the inquiry. 

Commenting on this move, Khawe said anyone was entitled to visit the former president.

“Anyone can visit anyone and have tea. It is good that Julius is visiting the former president. Maybe the outcomes will be [Malema being questioned on] why did you leave the ANC, why did you fight me? It’s good for anyone to visit the old man,” said Khawe.

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