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Some witnesses are treated like sweethearts while others are vilified – Zuma lawyer

2019-07-15 15:17

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has revealed that more prominent leaders are set to appear before the state capture commission of inquiry.

According to Zondo, former president Jacob Zuma “will not be the only leader in this country” who will be compelled to appear before the commission.

This was the assurance given by the commission chairperson in his opening remarks on Monday.

“Today the former president appears before the commission without being compelled, hence the commission appreciates that he is here,” Zondo said.

He added that “the former president is not the only leader that will appear before the commission” since as per its terms of reference the commission is compelled to get as much information from as many sources in order to arrive at an informed finding.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC have already expressed that they will avail themselves before the commission “at a later stage” to give their own version of events.

During his testimony before Zondo on Monday, Zuma said former president Thabo Mbeki was also a “close friend of the Gupta family”, meaning the former president could be required to appear before the commission as well.

Read: Zuma: ‘Suicide bombers were brought into the country to assassinate me’

Zuma attended the proceedings under protest as he felt the they were instituted under questionable circumstances.

He and his legal representative, Muzi Sikhakhane, questioned former Public Protector Thuli Mandosela’s actions when she “stripped” the former president of his “executive powers as per the Constitution to appoint the person to lead the commission”.

In her report stipulating that the commission should be instituted, Madonsela specified that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should select the person to head the commission.

Zuma said this was “suspect” that she chose to conduct herself in such a manner “since the Constitution provided for the president to appoint whomsoever he wishes to head a commission”.

He said that he followed Madonsela’s requests under protest hoping that “those who know the law would step in and reprimand the public protector but nothing happened.”

Sikhakhane also questioned the manner in which the commission’s legal team has gone about addressing his client.

He said the commission was “treating other witnesses like sweethearts” while his client has been “treated like an accused”.

His legal team had, prior to Zuma’s appearance before the commission, expressed its concerns over the commission’s refusal to furnish the former president with questions that it would be asking him.

The commission has set aside this week for Zuma to offer his version of events after eight witnesses directly implicated him in state capture.

Zuma resigned as president on February 14 2018, a month after he constituted the commission of inquiry, saying “the matter could not wait any longer”.

“Pursuant to the investigation and remedial action of the Public Protector regarding complaints and allegations of the State of Capture, as well as the orders issued by the North Gauteng High Court in its judgment of 14 December 2017, I have decided to appoint a commission of inquiry,” said Zuma.

However, during his testimony before Zondo, Zuma expressed reservations over the independence not only of the commission but “those who have called on it to be implemented”.

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May 31 2020