Former President Jacob Zuma is “not playing games” with the commission of inquiry into state capture, his lawyer Thabani Masuku has said.
Addressing the commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at Tuesday’s hearing, Masuku slammed the inquiry’s legal team for planning to apply for a summons against Zuma even when he was undergoing medical treatment.
He said, “We take great exception that it has come to this point where the legal team sees it fit, in the face of having been told that the former President has a medical condition that prevents him from coming, that they insist on arguing a summons.”
Zuma’s appearance postponed
Masuku continued, “We have told the Commission that he is not well… When he says he is not feeling well, he is not playing games.”
The inquiry’s legal team, led by Advocate Paul Pretorius, however said it only learned of Zuma’s medical condition on Monday afternoon. They therefore postponed their application for a summons to a later date.
Zondo subsequently announced that he had accepted that Zuma will not be able to appear from 27-31 January, the dates the legal team had suggested in their summons application.
Masuku did not disclose the nature of Zuma’s medical condition, suggesting that it was a “security issue.”
Zuma’s doctor to brief Zondo
He proposed that the former President’s lead doctor be allowed to brief Zondo on the nature of his medical condition “under very strict conditions of confidentiality.”
Zondo later said he had accepted “with some reluctance” Masuku’s suggestion, adding that this would then help determine when Zuma would be able to appear before the inquiry.
Masuku insisted that Zuma remains “unequivocally” willing to appear and that an impression shouldn’t be created that he isn’t.
The ex-President first testified in July last year when he made sensational claims that apartheid spies had infiltrated the African National Congress (ANC).
He was then scheduled to re-appear in October, but he requested for a postponement to prepare for his application for a permanent stay of prosecution in his corruption trial.
The inquiry subsequently announced that Zuma would appear in mid-November, but issued a statement shortly afterwards saying it had been informed that he was “ill.”