The Jacob Zuma Foundation has come out in support of the former President, asserting that he would rather “face jail” than be “bullied by a manipulated process.”
This comes after Zuma left the state capture inquiry on Thursday without seeking permission from its chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Zondo described Zuma’s act as a “serious matter” because the inquiry’s summons against Zuma compelled him to testify until Friday (20 November).
The ex-President’s application for Zondo to recuse himself as the inquiry’s chairperson failed earlier on Thursday, meaning that the summons still applied.
However, in a statement on Friday, the Foundation expressed its disappointment at Zondo for “missing an opportunity offered to him” by Zuma’s counsel.
It added, “Equally disturbing is the fact that the chairperson failed to realise that as soon as his unusual statement was contradicted, he could not be the arbiter of his own dispute.
“We are also gravely concerned at reports that when President Zuma’s legal team went to see the chairperson in chambers, they found the chairperson with Ngcukaitobi SC, whose role in the chairperson’s chambers was not explained.”
The Foundation accused Zondo of allowing “such irregularities” to occur, adding that it stood by Zuma.
“We stand by President Zuma and commend him for his firm stance of walking away from the commission. It is indeed a comedy of errors, floundering from one error to the next.
“We commend President Zuma for risking it all in order not to legitimise an
irregular process disguised as a legitimate commission,” it said.
It accused the inquiry’s evidence leaders and Zondo, “irregularly assisted by Ngcukaitobi SC,” of plotting criminal proceedings against Zuma.
‘Rather face jail than be bullied’
The Foundation added, “We know that President Zuma and his team took this brave stance because they were not prepared to be bullied and elected to terminate their participation regardless of the risk of contempt proceedings.
“President Zuma assures us that he would rather face jail than allow himself to be bullied by an irregular, manipulated and unlawful process.
“We hope that the chairperson is aware that those pulling the strings behind the scenes do not have his interests at heart and will drop him as quickly as they picked him.”
Following Zuma’s exit from the proceedings on Thursday, Zondo adjourned the inquiry until Monday when other witnesses are expected to testify.
He indicated that the inquiry will “reflect” on Zuma’s exit, but its work will continue.