POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Pressure mounts for Jacob Zuma to appear before Zondo commission
State-capture inquiry is also expected to hear evidence on law-enforcement agencies
State-capture commission hearings resume this week, and its first business will be an application that could result in former president Jacob Zuma being summoned to appear before the commission.
On Tuesday, commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, will hear an application to be moved by the commission’s legal team for an order authorising acting secretary Bridgitte Shabalala to “issue a summons” for Zuma to appear before the inquiry from January 27 to 31.
Zuma, who last appeared before the commission on July 15 2019 to give his side of the story, has been implicated in wrongdoing by former and current cabinet ministers and senior government officials, particularly about his relationship with the Gupta family, who are at the centre of state-capture allegations.
The former president denies any wrongdoing and has accused the commission, which he established, of being politicised, lacking impartiality and being biased against him.
Zuma promised in July that he would go back to the commission and deal with any other issues that needed to be dealt with. However, he failed to appear before the commission on his scheduled appearance dates of November 11-15, leading to speculation about his whereabouts.
The Sunday World reported in December that Zuma was being treated in a hospital in Cuba for an illness linked to an alleged poison plot from 2014. The former president was reportedly also struggling with memory loss.
From Wednesday this week to January 22, the commission is expected to hear evidence relating to law-enforcement agencies. The chair “determined [January] 27 to [January] 31 as the dates for the former president’s further appearance before the commission”, said Shabalala.
Meanwhile, parties such as the DA and EFF are poised to battle it out for control of the troubled Mamusa local municipality during by-elections in Schweizer-Reneke in North West on Tuesday.
This election comes after the provincial government dissolved the council and placed the municipality under administration in October 2019. The municipality was accused of maladministration, financial mismanagement and being unable to render basic services, in addition to being split by political infighting.
The by-election is a critical test for the DA as the rural town of Schweizer-Reneke was at the heart of a racial debacle in which a teacher was accused of being racist before the facts were established.
A furore erupted after DA Youth leader Luyolo Mphithi shared a picture of a classroom in the town showing black and white pupils segregated. The incident cost the DA at the polls as Afrikaner voters, seeing it as the final straw, moved their votes to the Freedom Front Plus.
The by-election will be important to see if John Steenhuisen taking over as DA interim leader after Mmusi Maimane’s dramatic resignation in October, as well as Helen Zille returning to the DA's top echelons, will bring Afrikaner voters back into the party’s fold.
The lead-up to the by-election has seen Steenhuisen and EFF leader Julius Malema campaign in the area over the past week.
On Tuesday, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was expected to release a report on “the likely future of ANC education policy”, said IRR campaigns co-ordinator Hermann Pretorius.
The report would deal with key education policy failures of the Gauteng provincial government in recent years, he said. Gauteng had the country's second-highest matric pass rate in 2019, achieving 87.2%, which was 0.7% down on 2018's result.