Former president Jacob Zuma does not want to stall or delay the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture, his lawyer said.
Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who is representing Zuma alongside his partners, said on Monday that Zuma did not want to delay any further processes during the inquiry and that the former president was prepared to defend the allegations which have been brought against him.
“We want to make it clear that we do not want to delay this process to the extent that our learned friends have suggested a way forward, depending on the election we make, we have no intention of stalling that process,” he said.
The long awaited inquiry into state capture finally got under way on Monday.
With Zuma expected to appear at the commission, his alleged dodgy dealings with the controversial Gupta family and their undue influence over acquiring government tenders through their Gupta-linked companies will be in the spotlight.
The inquiry is set to finally bring to justice key players behind the state capture saga, which has exposed serious looting and corruption by government officials.
Speaking on the first day of the inquiry, head of legal into the commission, Advocate Paul Pretorius, outlined several of the focus points that the inquiry will be dealing with, including whether or not former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas were offered cabinet positions and money by the Guptas in exchange for their political influence.
It will also look into whether Gupta-linked companies benefitted from the familiy’s close ties to the ex-president.
When former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into state capture was released in 2016, she recommended that an inquiry further investigate the implications of the close ties between Zuma, the Guptas and alleged “captured” members of the Cabinet.
Zuma had contested the findings in Madonsela’s report and he denied that the state was “captured”.
The inquiry will over the next few weeks see witnesses such as Mentor and Jonas appearing as witnesses.
Mentor made headlines after coming out publicly with the revelation that she was offered a job by the Guptas in exchange for her influence.
The Guptas have long held a questionable amount of control over business dealings with the former president and his son, Duduzane, who was charged with corruption in July, relating to his alleged involvement in a Gupta-linked plot to bribe Jonas.
The commission, which is being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has outlined nine terms of reference throughout its inquiry.
Some of these include “whether any member of the national executive, and including deputy ministers, unlawfully or corruptly or improperly intervened in the matter of the closing of banking facilities for Gupta-owned companies” and “the nature and extent of corruption, if any, in the awarding of contracts, tenders to companies, business entities or organisations by public entities listed under schedule 2 of the Public Finance Management Act No.1 of 1999 as amended”.
Former Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, who has also been linked to allegations of state capture and corruption, was represented by Welcome Lusanga subject to confirmation of instruction.
Lusanga said that Brown had not received a notice.
“Given the nature of the terms of reference, given the institutions that are being covered, which were in her portfolio, given the developments in other commissions outside of this one, it is likely that she may be implicated by the evidence that would be led by different witnesses on different aspects,” Lusanga said.
The ANC, which is expected to take a hard knock at the inquiry due to a number of its members being implicated in the state capture saga, released a statement on Monday in support of its processes.
“The ANC urges its members and others who are summoned to appear before the Commission to offer their full cooperation to the Commission, so that the country can deal with this difficult chapter,” the party said.