Former President Jacob Zuma’s foundation launched an attack on deputy chief Justice Raymond Zondo, after the head of the state capture commission made it clear this week he expects the former head of state to appear before him before the end of year.
In a statement released yesterday, the Jacob G Zuma Foundation said Zondo was “obsessed” with the former head of state and was intent on “attacking” him and his lawyers.
The commission’s announcement that its lawyers would apply for a subpoena that will force Zuma to answer questions on November 16-20 was designed to humiliate Zuma and his attorneys, and was an unjustified and prejudicial, it said.
It has further called on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to remind Zondo “that he is not above the law and that he is accountable to the constitution and not those who seek to peddle the theory of state capture that only serves to punish certain people while protecting those who are for now powerful”.
They accused Zondo of “contaminating” the commission, set up to probe allegations that Zuma’s administration facilitated wide-scale corruption and abuse of state resources, and said this “may end up compromising the entire process”.
While stating that Zuma had “always indicated that, despite his misgivings about the legality of the commission, he respects it and would co-operate”, the foundation said it appeared that Zondo was “determined to prejudice him, to humiliate him”.
These accusations amount to the most serious attack that those affiliated to Zuma have launched against Zondo, who has until now adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the former president.
Now, with months to go before the commission has been ordered to complete its work, it appears Zondo has taken a more hardline approach.
The foundation hit out at Zondo for not calling a media conference after public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan failed to explain his nonappearance at the commission, where he was due to be cross-examined by lawyers for former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane.
“This inconsistency and fear of the powerful is not expected from the man who occupies the second highest office in the judiciary”, the foundation said.
Zuma’s lawyers have yet to publicly respond to Zondo’s public announcement that inquiry lawyers would argue for him to be subpoenaed “with or without them”, unless they provided sufficient reasons justifying their absence.
The statement from the foundation, which serves as an effective conduit for the former president to express his views on the multiple legal challenges that he faces, is an indication that Zuma and his lawyers regard Zondo’s latest statement as a declaration of war.
“Unprovoked, the chairperson calls the press conference, insinuating that President Zuma or his lawyers have defied him when they have not even responded to the letter of September 18.”
Zuma was due to appear in late last year, but failed to do so, on the basis that he was receiving treatment for a serious medical condition overseas.
Zuma offered Zondo the opportunity to meet his doctor to verify that he was indeed ill at the time.