Former president Jacob Zuma appears before the Zondo commission on July 19 2019. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS
Former president Jacob Zuma appears before the Zondo commission on July 19 2019. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS

Former president Jacob Zuma will no longer take part in the commission of inquiry into state capture. 

Zuma’s lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane, made the announcement on Friday morning to the commission after letters were sent between his legal team and that of the commission on Thursday. 

When Zuma took to the stand this week he spoke about an elaborate plot, spanning almost three decades, to oust him that culminated in his removal in February 2018 as president of the state. 

After Zuma presented evidence for three days, proceedings were adjourned, after his legal team said on Wednesday that the commission had brought him there under false pretences. 

Following a protracted adjournment on Wednesday, commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo announced that Zuma’s testimony would be adjourned so that lawyers for the former president and the inquiry could reach “common ground” on how to proceed

At issue on Wednesday was the way in which the inquiry has been questioning Zuma, who has consistently maintained that he has been treated like an accused criminal and not a witness. 

On Friday, Sikhakhane said: “My client has instructed me that he will take no further part on these proceedings.”

Sikhakhane said Zuma respected Zondo and the work of the commission, “but he will take no further part”. 

He said Zuma was relentlessly cross-examined.  

Paul Pretorius, leader of the commission’s legal team on Friday read the team’s letter to Zuma’s legal team into the record and emphasised that no person appearing before the commission could refuse to answer any question, except on the specified grounds provided. 

Pretorius said Zuma has not yet been cross-examined. 

“Mr Zuma and his legal team are in effect asking to be excused from the rules,” Pretorius said. 

He said none of the questions posed to Zuma had gone beyond what was allowed. 

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za