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Zuma finally gets ‘his moment’ in Zondo commission inquiry

Today former South African President Jacob Zuma will finally get his time at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture when he makes his appearance.

Former president Jacob Zuma
Former president Jacob Zuma

But it is not clear yet if Zuma, who has been associated with state capture will testify, although his name has been mentioned multiple times in the more than 100 days of testimony.

On Friday, Zuma remained mum on whether he would, in fact, testify, just confirming that he would appear before the inquiry, saying: “We’ll see how it goes.”

Zuma was speaking at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning, just moments after his son Duduzane was acquitted of culpable homicide. Hundreds of Jacob Zuma supporters gathered on Monday last week to show their support for the former president.

Speaking in isiZulu, Zuma said: “Eqinisweni ngicelwe iCommission ukuthi ke ngizobeka engase ngikubeke, sekuzozwakala khona ukuthi kuhamba kanjani … ngiyaya khona. (Truthfully, I was called by the commission to come ‘say my piece’, so we will meet there and we will see how it goes … I’m going.)”

The former president has always maintained that there had been no state capture, resulting in a tense stand-off unfolding between him and inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo over the past few months.

He has accused the Zondo commission of being “prejudiced” against him and said it “lacks requisite impartiality”.

Zuma has also gone as far as saying that the entire process was designed to further a nefarious political agenda. His lawyers have also come out guns blazing, accusing the commission of seeking its own truth and trying to “deliver our client to the commission for public display and in order to ambush and humiliate him”.

The Zondo commission had asked him on several occasions, since April last year, to provide a written undertaking that he will appear before it. He, in turn, asked the commission to furnish him with questions before he appeared, but this was refused. Zuma has also accused the commission and its chairperson of “publicly and in an unprecedented way” singling him out. The commission also requested that he provide an affidavit by June 12. This has not happened — which begs the question, will he comply with what the commission had invited him to do?

Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha earlier said that his client was “relishing the moment” and that he “can’t wait to attend” the commission. It still remains unclear whether Zuma will testify, block the commission’s attempts to have him give testimony, or use the opportunity to reiterate his claims that he is being targeted as part of political battles.

However, one thing is for sure, when the former president appears before Deputy Chief Justice Zondo today, his loyalists will be demonstrating their support outside the commission. A group calling themselves Radical Economic Transformation (RET) Champions are pulling out all the stops to mobilise the same support as was seen when Zuma appeared in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on fraud and corruption charges.

Meanwhile, Zuma prepares to appear at the inquiry today, the commission is preparing tight security for the venue in Parktown, allowing only 200 people inside the building.

“It has come to the attention of the commission that there may be large crowds of people who want to attend the hearings from Monday, July 15 to July 19,” the commission noted in a statement.

Therefore, the commission will only allow 200 people into the venue, who will have to register before entering. The first 200 people will be accommodated on a first come, first serve basis. Anyone wishing to attend this week’s proceedings will have to register between 07:30-09:00 at Camp for Christ Ministries, the statement said. — Sapa