AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
MINUTES after his application for the recusal of the chairman of the state capture commission was dismissed, former President Jacob Zuma took off without the permission of Deputy Judge President Raymond Zondo.
Zondo expressed his dismay. ‘This is a “serious matter” Zondo says. “It is a pity that he has elected to leave without asking for permission.”
The Deputy President said the commission would adjourn to reflect on Zuma’s actions.
By excusing himself from the commission without permission, Zuma could find himself charged with contempt of the commission, which has the same powers as a high court.
Earlier, Zondo dismissed an application lodged by former President Jacob Zuma to recuse himself from chairing the judicial commission into state capture.
Zondo said after careful analysis of evidence presented by Zuma’s team he had decided that grounds tabled for his recusal were not sufficient enough for him to step down.
Zondo dismissed Zuma’s contention that the two of them were friends and that the relationship constituted a conflict. He said the one meeting that Zuma referred to as proof of their evidence of their friendship was in fact an official meeting after he was appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to chair the commission. The meeting took place because Zuma, then president of South Africa, had told Mogoeng that whichever judge was selected to chair the judicial commission into state capture must go and see him. The meeting was an official meeting, not a social visit, Zondo added.
Zondo also said there was no sound reason why Zuma raised the issue of their so-called friendship three years after his appointment as chair of commission. “The applicant can’t be allowed to raise it so late in the day,” he said.
On Zuma’s contention that the witnesses called before the commission were former members of his cabinet with an axe to grind, Zondo said the commission was free to hear testimonies from anyone as long as Zuma was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him.
Zondo said Zuma was provided with a chance to respond to the allegations but stopped attending the commission before his own testimony was completed. He pointed out several unsuccessful attempts by the commission.
The Deputy Judge President also dismissed Zuma’s submission that he had made comments which gave an impression that the former president was guilty of state capture. “The applicant’s contention has no merit. I am entitled and obliged to ask witnesses questions and seek clarity on their evidence,” Zondo said.
Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, for Zuma, said they would appeal the decision and pointed out that his team had a problem with Zondo becoming a “judge in a dispute involving yourself.”
Sikhakhane gave notice that Zuma wanted to be excused from the commission to consider the judgement and gave notice that he would file a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission regarding the judge being a witness and judge in a matter involving himself.
Advocate PJ Pretorious, leader of the evidence at the commission, told Zondo that Zuma’s recusal from the proceedings would be an act of defiance against the summons issued to force him to attend.