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Zondo eyes end of June restart, expects Zuma to appear 'quite soon'

Chairperson of the state capture commission of inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, briefed the media on the commission's work during the coronavirus lockdown.

FILE: Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Chairperson of the state capture commission of inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said that the resumption of public hearings may possibly resume under level 3 of the lockdown.

“My prediction was that under level 3, it will be much easier to do things for the commission, so I thought that we would be able to resume public hearings on the 17th. But once I saw the level 3 regulations, I saw that there were challenges… which is why in part I spoke to the president on Friday.”

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday briefed the media on the commission's work during the coronavirus lockdown.

Zondo said he foresees public hearings resuming on the last week of June or the first week of July.

“We are going to do things differently this time forward because of the time constraints, limited resources and because we want to finish the work of the commission.

“We are going to make arrangements so that the legal team can interview witnesses and transcribe the information they get from them as much as possible, which I will read to the commission before they come in.”

Zondo said that the public would still be able to have access to these transcripts. He said that this would help the commission have more witnesses a day than before.

“You might find that going forward, we don’t have as many public hearings… and that will give me an opportunity to look at work that needs to be done behind the scenes and review it,” Zondo added.

He said that commission personnel would be able to go back to work on 15 June to resume work.

Zondo was briefing the media on the commission's work during the coronavirus lockdown.

He said that the commission was designated to operate under level 4 but under plans that would restrict the spread of COVID-19.

Although the commission did not have public hearings, the commission was working during level 5 and 4 of the lockdown.

“Although we could not have public hearings under level 5, there is a lot of work that we were able to do remotely. That is work we had to do anyway, at some stage,” he said.

Zondo said that the commission had been finalising plans to have its staff return to work.

"On 15 June, personnel of the commission will be able to return."

But he said that those who were able to work remotely were encouraged to do so.

ZUMA TO RETURN TO COMMISSION SOON

Zondo says he expects former President Jacob Zuma to return to the commission quite soon

“It is going to happen reasonably soon after we have resumed hearings. We still would like him to c0me and give evidence.”

In January this year, Zondo said an application for a summons for former President Jacob Zuma was still pending.

The state capture commission's legal team had applied for a summons for Zuma to appear by the end of the month, but the hearing was adjourned.

The commission said it would be preferable for the inquiry to hear what the former head of state had to say about the damning state capture allegations against him but if he never appeared, the commission would still make its findings.

Zondo said he still had to decide whether to issue a summons compelling Zuma to appear at the state capture commission.

RAMAPHOSA TO APPEAR BEFORE THE COMMISSION

Zondo said that he had planned for President Cyril Ramaphosa to appear before the commission in July.

“That was before the lockdown was implemented. But with the fact that the lockdown has forced us to rearrange things, it’s not going to happen.”

Last year, Ramaphosa submitted his affidavit on whether he had any interactions or dealings with the controversial Gupta family and African Global Operations, previously known as Bosasa, to the judicial commission of inquiry probing allegations of state capture and corruption.

READ: SUMMARY OF RAMAPHOSA’S AFFIDAVIT TO ZONDO COMMISSION

He said he was also willing to testify before the Zondo commission should he be summoned by the commission.

Zondo said that Ramaphosa would appear before the commission sometime during the year.

LOCKDOWN HAS HAD FINANCIAL IMPACT ON COMMISSION

Zondo said that the lockdown, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has had a financial impact on the state capture commission.

He said that while there were budgetary challenges for the inquiry, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola had promised to support the inquiry where it needed help.

It emerged in Parliament last year that so far, the commission had cost taxpayers over R350 million.

Zondo wasn’t able to say if the commission would need additional funds but he said that government had promised to offer the inquiry the support it needed.

“I think that their supporting of the commission, they are trying the best that they can. There are attempts here and there to try to give the commission support as much as possible. We all have to work with very limited resources and have to do the best we can with what we get.”

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela.

WATCH: Zondo updates media on work of state capture commission