The Zuma-Zondo Face-Off

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Johannesburg - The chairperson of the commission investigating alleged state capture in South Africa, Justice Raymond Zondo, has instructed the panel’s secretary, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, to lay a criminal charge against Ex-President Jacob Zuma for missing a hearing last week Thursday.

The Zondo Commission was established to investigate alleged corruption during Mr Zuma’s tenure as president.

Justice Zondo said Mr Zuma’s decision to snub last week’s hearing was an offence in terms of the Commissions Act of 1947.

“Given the seriousness of Mr Zuma’s conduct and the impact it may have on the work of the commission and the need to ensure we give effect to the constitutional provisions that all are equal before the law, I have decided to instruct the secretary to lay a criminal complaint with the South African Police Service so the police can investigate his conduct. The secretary of the commission will make available to the police all relevant information,” said Justice Zondo.

He said he would issue summons for Mr Zuma to appear to respond to testimony by 35 witnesses who implicated him in graft, and he would seek an urgent Constitutional Court order to compel the former Head of State and Government to make himself available for the hearing.  

Last week, Mr Zuma abruptly left the hearing. The former president’s team says he asked to be excused, something the commission disputes.

Justice Zondo said it was important to deal with the matter because left unchecked, it could encourage other people to undermine the commission’s authority.

When Mr Zuma was summoned to appear before the commission for five days last week, he responded by lodging an application for Justice Zondo to recuse himself, arguing that he could not get a fair trial on the grounds that the two were close friends. Justice Zondo threw out the application.

This prompted Mr Zuma and his lawyer to walkout after signaling they would not only seek to have the decision reviewed, but also file a complaint against the judge with the Judicial Services Commission.

It has been more than a year since Mr Zuma last gave evidence to t the commission. The commission’s tenure expires in less than a month.

The commission has on at least 26 occasions stretching to August 2018 invited Mr Zuma to provide his version of events, but he has successfully sought being excused on numerous occasions.

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