Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: VELI NHLAPO.
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: VELI NHLAPO.

Jacob Zuma’s lawyer has written to the state capture commission informing it that the former president will not be appearing on Monday, but says this must not be seen as an act of defiance.

Zuma’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said in the letter one of the reasons his client would not be appearing is that the review application to have deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo’s decision not to recuse himself as chair of the commission had not yet been determined.

“Appearing before DCJ Zondo in the circumstances would undermine and invalidate the review application over his decision not to recuse himself,” Mabuza said.

He said the review application was not before the Constitutional Court and so was not considered, determined or adjudicated by the apex court.

“We reiterate that the above should not be construed to suggest any defiance of a legal process,” Mabuza said.

This was a different tone to the statement issued by Zuma after the Constitutional Court order that he must appear before the commission.

Zuma, at the beginning of February, made it clear that he would defy the order of the highest court in the country, and would not co-operate with the Zondo commission, which he set up in 2018, even if it meant going to jail.

The former president alleged that he was the target of “propaganda, vilification and falsified claims” because of his stance on the transformation of the country and its economy.

Zuma has sought to defy and discredit the commission, where witnesses have placed him, family members and his friends the Gupta family, to whom he was said to have handed over power to hire ministers, at the centre of huge corruption during his nine-year rule.

A summons was issued for him to appear on Monday to answer questions and give his side of the story to the commission.

The commission on Sunday reiterated that it had set down the entire week for Zuma’s appearance.

It said the Zondo evidence leaders and all relevant commission personnel would be at the hearing venue on Monday at 10am.

It is yet to be seen how Zondo will react to Mabuza’s letter.

If the commission believes that Zuma is in defiance of the summons and the Constitutional Court judgment, it can lay another criminal charge against him and lodge an application for contempt of court.

Zuma on Monday evening released another statement in which he again claimed he was subject to a “political propaganda”. He declared that his time with the commission was “now finished” and that he is waiting “to face the sentence to be issued by the Constitutional Court”. 

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

Update: February 15
This story has been updated to include Zuma's statement on Monday evening.

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