President Cyril Ramaphosa says former President Jacob Zuma must be given “time and space” to think about whether he will appear before the state capture commission of inquiry or not.
Ramaphosa made the remarks to journalists in Soweto after visiting the home of anti-apartheid activist Rebecca Kotane who passed away recently.
Earlier this week, Zuma issued a statement indicating that he will no longer cooperate with the inquiry, which is chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. This is despite a Constitutional Court order last week compelling him to appear before the inquiry and answer questions.
‘Give Zuma time and space’
Asked about Zuma’s statement, Ramaphosa said he saw it as something that “is in process.”
He added, “This is a matter that I’m sure he’s going to give much more thought to because he is being counseled by a number of people and a number of organisations that the constitutional structure that he contributed so much to needs to be given consideration.
“I’m sure in his own mind, in his own time he will think about all this. I would like to say let’s give former President Jacob Zuma time and space to think about this, and also to hear what other people are saying. And in giving consideration to this, I’m sure he will come to a conclusion. I prefer to leave it there.”
Ramaphosa also dismissed calls made by the ANC in the Eastern Cape to suspend Zuma from the party, saying this would be “preempting something that is not even being considered.”
Suspending Zuma not under consideration
“Those who are saying so are speaking for themselves. That’s not something that’s in consideration right now,” the President said, adding that the ANC will discuss the matter without making “rushed decisions.”
Ramaphosa’s rebuttal of the call to suspend Zuma is similar to that of ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who said on Wednesday that those making the call are “populists.”
“Why should we suspend a person who believes in what he believes in? [Former] President Zuma has a right to whatever he wants to do,” Magashule said.
Zuma’s defiant statement prompted a request for a meeting from EFF leader Julius Malema, who arrived at the ex-President’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
Malema was accompanied by Advocate Dali Mpofu, Ekurhuleni ANC regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina and ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni.