State capture commission says Zuma has no legal basis to defy ConCourt order

15 February 2021 - 13:22
By Penwell Dlamini, penwell dlamini AND Penwell Dlamini
Former president Jacob Zuma
Image: Veli Nhlapo Former president Jacob Zuma

Former president Jacob Zuma has no legal basis for not coming before the state capture commission and answer for the rampant corruption that took place during his presidency.

This is according to evidence leader Adv Paul Pretorius, SC, and supported by the commission’s chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo following Zuma's no-show on Monday.

Zuma was scheduled to testify from Monday until Friday. He announced in the morning that he would not be appearing as he is challenging a decision made by Zondo last year not to recuse himself from the commission.

But Pretorius said his reasoning did not hold ground as the Constitutional Court ordered him to come before the commission knowing about his application against Zondo.

“That application was put before the Constitutional Court and the court was aware of that application; notwithstanding that, [it] granted the order compelling Mr Zuma to appear today,” Pretorius said.

Pretorius also dismissed Zuma’s claim in his statement that the summons served by the commission on him was irregular and not in line with the Constitutional Court order made last month.

“That is not for Mr Zuma or his attorneys to decide….It does seem to ignore the application of the principle that the issue summons will be valid until set aside by a proper court. The former president must come here and express a lawful reason why he should not comply with the law in accordance with the summons,” Pretorius said.

In January, the Constitutional Court ordered Zuma to appear before the commission and answer questions posed to him. But Zuma then released a statement saying he would not appear before the commission, even stating he would rather go to jail.

Zondo also slammed Zuma’s reasoning, adding that his lawyers should have raised the issues in his Monday statement during the commission’s application before the Constitutional Court.

 “He knew that that was one of the points that the commission was going to make [but] he and his lawyers sent a letter saying that he would not participate in those [Constitutional Court] proceedings at all. The question is can he complain about the order by the court, in circumstances where he was given full opportunities to oppose that application and place before the court his case and he elected not to do so,” Zondo said.

Pretorius told the commission that Zuma has been implicated by at least 40 witnesses and had to come and answer on the allegations. He said the terms of reference that define the work of the commission mention him by name

“We have terms of reference…Mr Zuma is referred to directly by name in four terms of reference and indirectly in [a] few. His evidence is obviously relevant to the work of the commission,” he said.