Former president Jacob Zuma’s grounds for his continued defiance of the state capture inquiry have no merit whatsoever.
This is according to commission chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
Zuma again failed to appear at the inquiry on Monday, citing his application to the high court to review the decision by Zondo not to recuse himself.
Zondo said Zuma’s excuses, including his previous ones, were lacking in legal logic.
Even worse, said Zondo, it was Zuma who set up the commission and urged everyone to “fully co-operate” with the inquiry.
“One would have thought he would be the first one to fully co-operate,” said Zondo.
The judge said it was disturbing that Zuma, in his letter to the commission on Monday morning, claimed to not be in defiance – contrary to his open letter issued on February 1 in which he stated he would defy the commission.
Furthermore, it was Zuma who elected to not oppose the commission’s application to the Constitutional Court seeking to force him to appear, which was granted.
“When the commission launched its application to the Constitutional Court, Mr Zuma was served with the full set of court papers,” said Zondo.
“In that application, the point is made quite clearly that the commission was aware Mr Zuma intended to launch a review application of my decision not to recuse myself, and it was contended by the commission that will be no ground for him not to appear before the commission.
“The question is, can he complain about the order made by the Constitutional Court in circumstances when he was given full opportunity to contest the application and he elected not to?”
The head of the inquiry’s legal team, advocate Paul Pretorius, said Zuma was duty-bound to assist the inquiry as a former head of state, notwithstanding that he was personally implicated by witnesses in earlier testimony.
“Mr Zuma has been implicated by at least 40 witnesses. What happened during the presidency of Mr Zuma, his knowledge of some events, is important to the work of this commission,” Pretorius said.
“Mr Zuma, more than anyone else, should assist the commission to understand what happened in the period under review. The public have a right to know what their president did or did not do.”
Despite Zuma’s no-show, the commission’s team on Monday went all-out in preparation of his appearance.
The inquiry venue, contrary to normal days, was ring-fenced with security screening at two search points heading to the building.
There was also a heavy police presence, with no less than 100 police and Johannesburg metro police department officers on duty.