‘Don’t make your problems mine’: Zuma lawyer Sikhakhane rattles Zondo

Musi Sikhakhane has locked horns with the State Capture Inquiry on Monday, setting his sights on DCJ Raymond Zondo. The legal eagle has been accused of showing bias against Jacob Zuma, who has returned to the Commission for the first time in 16 months. However, it was an argument about recusal that dominated proceedings today.

Zondo fights back against Zuma lawyers

The Zuma camp is adamant that the State Capture Inquiry is a ‘politically motivated sideshow’ with the only goal of ‘punishing the former president’. However, Zondo has been batting away the accusations throughout the day, questioning the logic behind the applications for a recusal, which would remove the DCJ from presiding over the Inquiry.

“If I recuse myself, there will be a vacuum. How exactly would we appoint another judge? Will that official have to rehear everything from the past two-and-a-half years. Also, who must appoint that judge? If it’s the president, another argument of partiality emerges. A recusal would likely collapse the Commission.”

“As an aggrieved witness, the best possible circumstances may be to complain later. Once the Commission has finished its work. There is no precedent to guide a decision on recusal application…”

Musi Sikhakhane shows sass in his battle with DCJ Zondo

Sikhakhane is no stranger to fighting Jacob Zuma’s battles, and he used that trademark ‘meandos‘ philosophy to find alternative ways of questioning the State Capture Inquiry’s credibility. When asked about the possibility of a recusal ‘collapsing the panel’, the advocate simply warned Zondo against ‘making his problems those of the defence’.

“You are making your problem mine. My grounds cannot be ruled ‘incompetent’ simply because it suits you. This Commission should not be collapsed, that’s not what I am saying. But the establishment of the State Capture Inquiry is politically motivated. Those who thought this up wanted to sink Jacob Zuma, and nothing else.”

“We have to place before you that some of your comments have been politically driven, polluting a legal process. We hope you can craft an alternative way forward. If Mr. Zuma is wrong on his grounds, he will blow us [dismiss them]. And if our client is forced to testify, he has the right to stay silent throughout.”

Indeed, Sikhakhane’s use of the term ‘blow’ cropped up more than once, providing some light relief on a tense day…

“I can sit down now chair and you will blow me and I can review you and it can go nowhere and that will be the end of Mr Zuma or I will bring him here and tell him to there and tell him to say nothing. That is a stalemate I can do.”

The landscape for Monday’s battle has proved to be utterly fascinating. As of 14:50, the recusal issue was still the main topic of debate. Jacob Zuma has got nowhere near the hot-seat yet, in a battle that’s likely to drag for hours – if not days.