The JG Zuma Foundation has accused Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo of being “determined to prejudice and humiliate” former President Jacob Zuma.
The Foundation issued a statement on Wednesday in response to Zondo’s comments on Zuma’s next appearance at the state capture inquiry on Monday. Zondo is the inquiry’s chairperson.
Addressing the media before the inquiry’s proceedings started, Zondo said he expected Zuma to make his second appearance between 16 and 20 November, 2020.
‘No dates will be negotiated with Zuma’
Zuma was meant to appear this week, but his lawyers informed Zondo that he would not be able to do so because, among other reasons, he was preparing for his corruption trial.
“No dates will be negotiated with them or with him,” Zondo emphasised. “This commission has made it clear to the attorneys who represented him before that this commission does not negotiate dates with witnesses.”
However, the JG Foundation said Zondo’s “attack” on Zuma was “absolutely unjustified and prejudicial.” It accused Zondo of lacking “this courage” when others failed to appear at the inquiry, specifically mentioning Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The Foundation claimed Zuma’s legal team had only received communication on the new dates on Friday and therefore had not had a chance to reply. Zondo’s comments therefore insinuated that Zuma and his legal team were defying the inquiry, it added.
‘Prejudice, humiliate Zuma’
It said, “We believe that the chairperson could have waited for President Zuma’s legal representatives to respond to his instructions that only came on Friday before his hastened media briefing on Monday.
“President Zuma has always indicated that, despite his misgivings about the legality of the commission, he respects it and would cooperate. However, it appears that the chairperson is determined to prejudice him, to humiliate him.
“It is clear for all to see that the chairperson has made up his mind that he will treat President Zuma harshly in order to secure for himself a future career in the highest office in the judiciary.”
The Foundation called on the Deputy Chief Justice to be consistent in dealing with witnesses and be fair to Zuma “even if he has already found him guilty.”
“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,” it said.