DCJ Raymond Zondo has given his official ruling on the recusal application launched last week by Jacob Zuma and his legal team, dismissing the move on Thursday. Counsel representing the former president requested that the leader of the State Capture Inquiry should remove himself from the role, due to his relationship with the 78-year-old witness.
However, Zondo has stood firm, and very much remains in charge of proceedings. The recusal bid has been soundly rejected by the Commission, which also served to remind Mr. Zuma that he had failed to respond to several requests made by the panel since 2019. Talk about a dressing down…
“Subsequent to Zuma’s appearance in 2019, he was furnished with documents highlighting areas of interest which he had to answer to. Zuma did not comply with this directive and failed to submit affidavits. The applicant failed to deliver any affidavit after dates were set by the Chair.”
“During August 2020 the applicant was notified that dates had been set down as dates to appear before the commission. Zuma had not supplied the commission with an affidavit, as requested previously. He was notified that he would be requested to appear in September.”
“The applicant has been served with Rule 3.3 notices that indicate a person is implicated or may be implicated by witness testimony. Regulation 10.6 allows the Chair to compel a person to give a version via affidavit. The DCJ has issued several 10.6 notifications to Zuma – but is yet to have them responded to.”
Zuma is adamant that he and Zondo had an amicable relationship, describing the DCJ as a close friend. However, this has been rejected by the Commission’s chairperson, and he has maintained that there is no ‘conflict of interest’ to report.
Musi Sikhakhane, an advocate who spent most of Monday arguing the case for Jacob Zuma, also slammed Zondo for being ‘too aggressive and emotional’ towards some of the witnesses who have appeared in the hot-seat since August 2018. It was reasoned that witnesses yet to speak with Zondo would be ‘intimidated’ by his tone.
However, Paul Pretorius sniped back at the Msholozi camp, dismissing their case as ‘spurious’. There was a clash between Pretorius and Sikhakhane, before a two-day delay bought Zuma some precious time off the stand. As agreed prior to this week, uBaba is only scheduled to appear at the State Capture Inquiry from 16 – 20 November.
Indeed, the recusal bid itself faced one major issue: Jacob Zuma was the man who commissioned an investigation in state capture, and Zondo was picked to lead evidence by the Chief Justice. The legal heavyweight was keen to mention this: