Jacob Zuma’s lawyers flummoxed by Raymond Zondo’s ‘invite’ to state-capture inquiry
Zuma is co-operating fully with the commission, say his lawyers, and has never said he would not attend the inquiry
Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers insist he is “co-operating” with the state-capture inquiry and have hit back at deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo’s request for him to respond to the evidence against him as “unfortunate”.
“Former president Zuma made an election in terms of the rules of the commission that he will not apply to cross-examine the witnesses who allegedly implicated him or may implicate him‚” Zuma’s legal team said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.
“It would seem that despite him co-operating with the commission, his election (in terms of the commission’s own rules) is misunderstood as non-cooperation‚ we find this very unfortunate since former president Zuma has sent his legal representatives to every sitting of the commission where the alleged evidence which may implicate him was being given‚ and, further, he has honoured‚ through his legal team‚ all the requests which were brought to the attention of his legal team by the commission.”
Zuma’s lawyers issued the statement hours after Zondo revealed that he had “invited” the former president to respond to specific allegations made against him by former government communications head Themba Maseko and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.
“It was announced‚ I think some time last week‚ that former president Jacob Zuma had taken the view that he is not implicated by any of the witnesses so far and, therefore, that is why he did not apply for the right for him to cross-examine anybody‚” Zondo stated on Thursday morning‚ after he refused an application by the Gupta brothers to cross-examine Mentor‚ Maseko and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.
“Nevertheless‚ there are some areas where I would like him to deal with‚ for example‚ the evidence of Miss Mentor that‚ while she was at the Gupta residence‚ when she got agitated and became loud‚ the former president emerged from one of the rooms and they spoke and he walked her to the car‚ as well as the evidence of Mr Maseko‚ that he got a call from the former president on the afternoon that he was leaving his offices to attend a meeting with Mr Ajay Gupta.
“I have invited the lawyers for the former president and indicated my wish that he put this in an affidavit‚ that he could put his version in regard to those aspects in an affidavit to assist the commission. So I have extended that invitation to the former president to assist the commission‚ by considering deposing to an affidavit and deal with those two aspects.”
Zuma’s advocate Muzi Sikhakhane had previously stated that Zuma wished to “participate meaningfully” in the inquiry. His lawyers say he “will apply his mind to the invite and shall convey his reply to the chair of the commission as soon as he has consulted with his team”.