Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, in Johannesburg, November 18 2020. Picture: VELI NHLAPO.
Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, in Johannesburg, November 18 2020. Picture: VELI NHLAPO.

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has once again delayed his ruling on former president Jacob Zuma’s bid to have the judge recuse himself as the state capture commission’s chair.

The commission’s secretary, Itumeleng Mosala, said it had received a statement from Zuma, which Zondo needed to consider before making a ruling.

He had originally been expected to make his ruling at 3pm on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Zuma’s advocate, Muzi Sikhakhane, said his client would submit a statement in response to the one read out by the deputy chief justice earlier this week, in which he denied he had a close, personal relationship with the former president or that they were friends.

In his application for Zondo’s recusal, Zuma claimed that he and the deputy chief justice had a “close, personal relationship” that spanned three decades. Zuma also claimed that Zondo had visited his house on several occasions, and that the two men had had a conversation before Zondo was appointed a judge, about whether their personal relationship would “jeopardise his judicial career”.

However, in his statement read into the record, Zondo denied all of that: Mr Zuma’s statement that we are friends is not accurate,” Zondo said on Monday while reading out his statement. “Mr Zuma and I do not socialise and have never socialised together.”

Zondo will now hand down his ruling on the application for him to recuse himself on Thursday morning.

The application comes as the commission, which has already cost more than R700m, has only another four months in which to conclude its work.

It is not clear if Zuma will still answer questions at the commission if Zondo dismisses his application. Sikhakhane has already indicated that if his client is unsuccessful, he will go to court to have the decision reviewed.

The commission was launched in 2018 after a report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela into allegations that the Gupta family — friends of Zuma and his son’s business partners — were allowed to run parts of the state, including choosing ministers, to further their own interests.

Various witnesses, including former ministers who served in Zuma’s cabinet, gave evidence that implicated the former president. The former president has himself also appeared at the commission before (in July 2019), using the opportunity to accuse some of his accusers of being apartheid spies.

Zuma has also said that he believed the state capture commission was part of a political project to destroy him.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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