The State Capture Commission of Inquiry announced, on Wednesday morning, that the recusal ruling would be heard later in the afternoon, 15:00 to be exact. This comes after former president Jacob Zuma brought forward an application for Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself from the inquiry claiming that he is too biased.
On Tuesday, Zondo said his judgement on Zuma’s application would be heard at 10:00 on Wednesday. Just a few hours later, a statement was issued saying; “the public is hereby notified that the Chairperson will deliver his ruling/judgement at 15:00”.
Zuma’s argument is that Zondo will treat him with bias while the inquiry unfolds. He also cited a “historic family connection” that should have been disclosed prior to Zondo taking on the job. He also argued that it is nothing but a conflict of interest. This after, it was revealed that Zondo fathered a lovechild with Zuma’s sister-in-law in the 1990s.
“To my knowledge, Zuma had no relationship with Ms Thobeka Madiba in the mid-1990s. That Mr Zuma happened to marry the sister of a woman with whom I had had a relationship that ended so many years before that marriage has never had any bearing on the execution of my judicial functions in the many matters involving Zuma in which I have sat as a Justice of the Constitutional Court since 2012. Nor does it have any bearing on the execution of my duties as chairperson of the commission,” Zondo said.
Advocate Paul Pretorious, on Monday, defended Zondo saying that accusations of bias were completely unfounded.
“Sikhakhane did not give proof that Zondo was in fact biased. The inquiry is unlike a civil matter, where one can remain silent and not testify. In short, Mr. Zuma must be heard. I don’t understand why that constitutes as being bias,” said Pretorious.
“Mr. Zondo, You are the investigator, not the legal team. The legal team is there to assist you. But there’s no evidence to show Zondo’s opinion on Zuma is predetermined – but in fact, the opposite is true. We searched in vain for evidence of public hostility against Zuma. The former president is central to the inquiry – something they don’t seem to understand.”
Musi Sikhakhane, who fought on behalf of Zuma said he took offence to the comments made by Pretorious.
“We were doing well, Mr Zondo, you did not patronise me. I take exception to what Mr. Pretorius said. That prejudice offends me. He keeps telling me there are things I don’t understand. He’s making false allegations, not me. He reckons we are peddling conspiracies – that is also a lie, all I have done is put to you what is in the mind of my client.”
Zondo, in turn, argued that a recusal would likely collapse the commission. Just after the inquiry began on Monday, Zondo read out a statement regarding the relationship he had and has with Zuma.
Zondo said he never had a one-on-one meeting with Zuma when he was a sitting president. He claimed that any individual meetings the pair had, happened more than 13 years ago.
“Zuma’s statement that we are friends is not accurate. He has never been to any of the homes that we have lived in. Since the early 90s, I have lost four siblings and my mother and at each circumstance, Zuma was never invited or attended,” he added.