President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo have denied claims of judicial interference following a delay in releasing the final instalment of the state capture commission of inquiry report.
On Monday, both Zondo and the Presidency confirmed that Zondo had a telephone discussion with Ramaphosa on the timing of the report’s handover. This prompted some opposition parties to claim Ramaphosa was interfering in the inquiry’s work.
“This constitutes a dangerous and unacceptable interference in the judicial process which casts a long shadow over both the independence of South Africa’s judiciary and the credibility of the Presidency,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said.
The EFF also claimed the delay “gives credence to claims that the report is being altered in order to cast doubt on the credibility of Arthur Fraser,” who has opened a criminal case against Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala farm robbery.
In a statement on Tuesday (21 June), the Presidency said the telephone call between Ramaphosa and Zondo was held to discuss “delays in the delivery of the report and [to finalise] the date for the official handover of the report.”
“The Presidency therefore rejects claims that the President has in any manner interfered with the work of the commission or the judiciary as speculated by some opposition parties,” Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said.
In a separate statement issued on behalf of Zondo, the inquiry’s Secretary, Prof. Itumeleng Mosala, said Ramaphosa and Zondo did not have a meeting on Monday as the DA and EFF had claimed.
“The postponement of the handover of the Report was agreed upon at the instance of the Chairperson as he wished to check the Report for errors for the last time,” Mosala said.
“The President never interfered in any way with the work of the Chairperson or of the Commission. The Chairperson regrets any inconvenience caused by the delay and the postponement. The Chairperson just wanted to have one final opportunity for quality assurance as he was at the JSC interview yesterday and could not do that quality assurance until sometime in the afternoon.”
Zondo, who chaired the lengthy inquiry, is now scheduled to hand over the final part of his report to Ramaphosa on Wednesday (22 June), marking the end of the inquiry’s work. The initial handover date was 20 June.
The final instalment is expected to focus on alleged corruption in the State Security Agency during Fraser’s tenure as Director-General, among other issues.
The Presidency said it will make an announcement once it has received it.