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Zondo puts the squeeze on Zuma

Publish date: 14 September 2018
Issue Number: 4545
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: State capture

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has painted Jacob Zuma into a corner with his request that the former President responds to allegations against him stemming from witness testimony at the state capture inquiry, notes Legalbrief. Zondo said yesterday he had asked Zuma to put forward his version of events in terms of the evidence presented by former government spokesperson Themba Maseko and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, notes a TimesLIVE report. Zuma’s lawyers informed the commission last week that he was not applying to cross-examine any witnesses as he believed that none of the evidence presented implicated him, but now they say that this position has been misinterpreted as non-co-operation' (see report below). Zondo said yesterday it was now his ‘wish’ that Zuma responds to the allegations by Mentor and Maseko. ‘I have invited the lawyers for the former President and indicated my wish that he could put his version in an affidavit to assist the commission‚’ said Zondo. Mentor testified that Zuma was present at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound when Ajay Gupta offered her the position of Public Enterprises Minister in October 2010. She said Zuma tried to pacify her when she reacted angrily to Gupta’s offer and walked her to her car. Maseko testified that Zuma called him as he was on the way to a meeting with Gupta and instructed him to help the family. Zuma has refused on numerous occasions – including in Parliament while he was President – to respond to allegations of state capture and explain his relationship with the Guptas.

Zuma described state capture as just another ‘politically-decorated expression’ during a South African Students Congress event this week. A lawyer working for the commission reportedly told TimesLIVE that Zondo had the power to summon Zuma to explain his comments in order to find out what he meant by it. And Maseko publicly challenged Zuma to give his version of events, says a Beeld report. Maseko described Zuma’s speech on Wednesday at the Walter Sisulu University as shocking. ‘I don’t know who gave him advice to make such statements.’ Zuma told students there was no such thing as state capture. ‘The country is waiting to hear his version of events. I’m looking forward to it,’ Maseko is quoted as saying.

Full TimesLIVE report

Full Beeld report (subscription needed)

Zuma says he will apply his mind to the matter. The former President made it clear yesterday he considered his decision not to apply to cross-examine witnesses had been interpreted as an unwillingness to co-operate with the commission’s investigation, notes a report on the IoL site. ‘It would seem that despite him co-operating with the commission his election (in terms of the commission’s own rules) is misunderstood as non-co-operation; we find this very unfortunate since former President Zuma has sent his legal representatives to every sitting of the commission where the alleged evidence which may implicate him was being given‚ and further he has honoured through his legal team all the requests which were brought to the attention of his legal team by the commission.’ His lawyers added, according to a News24 report: ‘He reiterates this position and therefore he will apply his mind on the invite and shall convey his reply to the chair of the commission as soon as he has consulted with his team.’

Full report on the IoL site

Full News24 report

Earlier Zondo dismissed an application by Ajay and Rajesh Gupta to cross-examine Mentor‚ Maseko and former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas. However, he granted Duduzane Zuma leave to cross-examine Jonas‚ as he has now agreed to give evidence to the commission after indicating initially he would not do so. Zondo said he would grant the Guptas permission to cross-examine only if the brothers agreed to come to SA and testify in person, notes BusinessLIVE. But they have refused to come to SA, saying they are scared they would be arrested by the Hawks and be prosecuted by the NPA. They believe that both institutions are incompetent. The Guptas had asked the commission to meet with them overseas or allow them to give evidence via video link, but Zondo rejected both suggestions. Zondo said there was no reason to give the Gupta brothers special treatment as ‘they chose to turn their backs on this country’. ‘The world will know that they elected for their side of the story not to be heard‚’ said Zondo.

Full BusinessLIVE report