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Magashule: ANC top six decided to respect Zuma’s rights

They held a virtual meeting with the former leader on Monday night over his decision to defy a Constitutional Court order to return to the state capture inquiry.

Former President Jacob Zuma addressing his supporters outside the state capture commission on 19 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule said the party’s top officials had decided to respect former President Jacob Zuma’s rights.

They held a virtual meeting with the former leader on Monday night over his decision to defy a Constitutional Court order to return to the state capture inquiry.

Magashule described the five-hour meeting as positive, constructive, energising and giving of hope to the people of South Africa.

READ: ANC says Zuma meeting 'positive and constructive'

Zuma also missed his deadline to oppose the state capture commission’s contempt of court application, which is currently before the Constitutional Court.

He's maintained that he will go back to the witness stand at the inquiry if its chairperson Raymond Zondo recuses himself.

Magashule said the top six meeting with Zuma anchored around the country’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Describing it as one of the best meetings ever held, he told journalists during Monday night’s media briefing that Zuma delivered an extensive presentation to ANC leaders explaining his position.

“And we all agreed that there has not been any intention to undermine the Constitution of South Africa.”

The top officials were tasked by the national executive committee during its meeting last month to engage the former leader to understand his decision to defy the courts.

Magashule said the party respected Zuma’s rights and had decided to continue giving him space to deal with this matter.

“Whether to appear before the state commission, judicial commission of inquiry... we have left that matter because he will further consult with his lawyers.”

Zuma missed his deadline to file opposing papers against the commission of inquiry’s application for him to be found in contempt of court.

BUT DOES THE ANC SUPPORT ZUMA’S DEFIANCE?

Magashule has refused to give an answer on whether the party's top leadership supporting Zuma's decision not to return to the state capture inquiry.

Magashule, a well-known ally of Zuma, is the same person tasked by the organisation to announce that attempts to convince Zuma to return to the inquiry were not a success.

When asked if the top six supported this decision, he said: “We have listened and engaged and he is going to decide once he has consulted with his lawyers.”

Eyewitness News understands that Zuma's presentation included describing the commission as a hostile environment and complaints that in the Constitutional Court, he was going up against judges with close proximity to Zondo.

He’s also said to have complained that the ANC’s current leadership has not shown him any support.

It’s also understood that Zuma said he was prepared to submit an affidavit and answer questions as long as someone else chaired the session.

The top officials will have to file a report on the virtual meeting and eventually present it to the ANC's national executive committee.

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