Chairperson of the state capture commission of inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has said the inquiry will make findings whether former President Jacob Zuma returns to testify before it or not.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Zondo said it was “preferable” for Zuma to reappear before the inquiry because he was the head of state when state capture allegedly occurred. Allegations have also been made about Zuma, he added.
Zondo said, “If for whatever reason we were to finish without him appearing, I will make my findings based on the evidence of everyone else.”
Postponements of Zuma’s return
Zuma first appeared at the inquiry in July 2019 and testified for several days. He was then scheduled to reappear in October.
However, he requested for a postponement to prepare for his application for a permanent stay of prosecution in his corruption trial related to the arms deal.
The inquiry subsequently announced that the ex-President would appear in mid-November, but issued a statement shortly afterwards saying it had been informed that he was “ill.”
The inquiry’s legal team decided to apply for a summons against Zuma last week, but postponed it on account of Zuma’s unspecified “medical condition.”
No preferential treatment for Zuma
Zondo subsequently agreed to postpone his appearance, which had been tentatively set for 27-31 January by the legal team, to a later date.
In response to the aborted summons application, Zuma’s lawyers threatened to challenge the legality of the inquiry and the way it has conducted its work.
They accused the inquiry of abuse of process because it had sought to summons the ex-President even when he had not refused to appear before it.
In his briefing on Thursday, Zondo denied giving Zuma preferential treatment, insisting that he treats “everyone equally and with respect.”
He said, “I have sought to treat him as I treat everybody. I do not think there are implicated witnesses to whom I am soft. If I dealt with him in a certain way, there would be others who say I am singling him out.”
The inquiry was due to complete its work at the end of February. It has now applied at the high court for an extension until December 2020.