Zuma Foundation hits back at Zondo, accuses him of bias and ‘obsession’

This followed former President Jacob Zuma’s no-show at the commission on Monday after he was scheduled to appear.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma at the state capture commission on 17 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Jacob Zuma Foundation has heavily criticised the chairperson of the State Capture Commission Chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, saying his extraordinary media conference was designed to humiliate the former president.

In a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday, the foundation expressed its disappointment at Zondo’s “obsession” with Zuma and accused him of being “prejudicial”.

This followed Zuma’s no-show at the commission on Monday after he was scheduled to appear.

The deputy chief justice set down 16 to 20 November for the former statesman to appear at the commission, and he warned that the dates were not up for negotiation.

Zondo also said that he would hear an application for a summons on 9 October even if Zuma’s lawyers don’t confirm his attendance or appear for the hearing.

“His attacks on President Zuma and his legal representatives were absolutely unjustified and prejudicial,” the statement from the foundation stated.

“His media conference was ill-advised and utterly inappropriate for a person of his seniority in the judiciary.”

‘CHAIRPERSON LACKS COURAGE’

The foundation accused Zondo of “inconsistency and fear of the powerful”, citing Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s failure to appear before the commission in August.

“The chairperson lacks this courage when faced with the open defiance by certain people, who have refused to appear before the commission. He has not called a press conference to respond to Minister Pravin Jamnandas Gordhan when he failed even to file an affidavit to explain his non-appearance.

“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 it respected the judiciary but reminded Zondo that “he is not above the law himself and that he must be consistent in how he deals with witnesses and implicated persons.”

“No witness, even the most arrogant and the most petulant, have inspired the Chairperson to call a media briefing merely to castigate them. No race, class, or position in government should guarantee any witness the Chairperson’s docility.”

‘JEOPARDISED OPPORTUNITY FOR COOPERATION’

The foundation called on the deputy chief justice to be consistent in dealing with witnesses, and to be fair to Zuma “even if he has already found him guilty”.

“By calling the media conference, the chairperson has jeopardised a great opportunity for cooperation. We believe that it serves no purpose to call an implicated person you have already judged while you refuse to call other witnesses simply because their testimony contradicts your brief or narrative you seek to confirm.

“We call upon the Chief Justice to remind the chairperson 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.”

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