Zuma’s legal team: Our client is being unfairly treated
Advocate Thabani Masuku, representing Zuma, said the commission shouldn’t ask questions his client isn’t prepared to answer.
JOHANNESBURG – Former President Jacob Zuma’s legal team on Tuesday morning objected to the line of questioning by the Zondo commission over testimony given last year by the former CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Themba Maseko.
Maseko testified before the commission that he was fired from his position in 2011 for failing to follow the Guptas’ instructions over government advertising in their now-defunct newspaper, The New Age.
Advocate Thabani Masuku, representing Zuma, accused the commission’s evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius of cross-examining Zuma, saying unlike other witnesses who had appeared before the commission, Zuma wasn’t given an opportunity to properly prepare himself for questions related to Maseko’s claims and his interaction with the Guptas.
“Mr Pretorius now wants our client to respond to phone calls that happened between Mr Maseko and Mr Ajay Gupta - [it's] not right. You chair will read something into it and it’s not fair,” Masuku argued.
He said the commission shouldn’t ask questions Zuma wasn’t prepared for, and they wanted clear questions instead of getting caught up in “Maseko’s speculation”.
But the commission’s chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said witnesses who appeared before the commission were there to tell their versions of events in relation to state capture allegations. He said the commission was tasked with inquiring whether the claims made had anything to do with impropriety.
Pretorius agreed with Zondo and said the terms of reference of the commission were not being abused as alleged by Zuma’s legal team and that the line of questioning was fair. But, Masuku didn’t accept the argument by the commission, which led to Zondo deferring the proceedings for a tea break to consult with the lawyers.
During the first day of Zuma’s testimony, his lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane also complained that his client wasn’t given questions ahead of his appearance for him to prepare.
Zondo was expected to return with a resolution after the tea beak.
Former President Jacob Zuma will return to the Zondo commission of inquiry this morning where he will continue to respond to the allegations of state capture levelled against him.