Zondo on why Jacob Zuma needs to testify at state capture inquiry

Earlier this month, the former president was summoned to appear before the commission in 2021 after he left proceedings without permission from the chairperson in November.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on 17 November 2020. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG – Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday said the state capture commission needed to hear from Jacob Zuma over allegations of state capture and corruption because he was the president of the country when the said crimes occurred.

“When it comes to Mr Zuma, to a very large extent, he has indicated that he is not keen to be heard because he doesn’t believe that there are any witnesses who have implicated him,” Zondo said at a press briefing on the work of the commission.

“Insofar as the right to be heard is concerned, it’s fine if he takes that attitude. But why we need him is more important because the commission needs to put questions to him arising out of evidence that has been given by various witnesses. If we didn’t have questions for him and he didn’t want to be heard, we may have left him alone,” he added.

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Earlier this month, Zuma was summoned to appear before the commission next year after he left proceedings without permission from the chairperson in November.

The commission set the dates of 18 to 22 January and 15 to 19 February to hear the evidence from the former statesman. The Constitutional Court is also expected to hear the commission’s application to compel Zuma to appear before the inquiry on 29 December.

Zondo said witnesses who appeared before him had given evidence that raised certain questions, and the commission wanted to put those questions to Zuma.

“That is quite important because he was the president of the country for most of the time when a lot of the things that the commission is investigating are alleged to have happened,” Zondo said.

“There are witnesses who say he played a certain role in certain matters. Now, it may be that if he indeed did play the roles that those witnesses said he played; it may be that he may be said to have abused his powers as president. But it’s important he is questioned on those matters before any finding can be made on whether or not he abused his powers as president, or he did not abuse his powers as president.”

The deputy chief justice also said Zuma was mentioned in the commission’s terms of reference.

“You will also remember that when you look at the terms of reference of the commission, he is one of the persons who are specifically mentioned as persons whose conduct this commission must investigate. There are a number of references to him as well as the Guptas. That's why it's very important, because of the position held, because of the allegations that he played certain roles in regard to certain matters,” he said.

READ: Zondo commission to request another extension

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Zondo also announced that the commission will be approaching the High Court to apply for another extension. He said the inquiry lost about three months during the lockdown and that time needed to be covered.

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa would appear and testify at the commission when proceedings resume next year. However, no date was set for the president to appear as yet.

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