State Capture Inquiry: Zondo to rule on Zuma recusal application

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is expected to make a decision on his own fate as the chairperson of the State Capture Commission on Tuesday, 17 November 2020. Zondo is set to rule on an application brought forward by former president Jacob Zuma, to have him recuse himself from the inquiry.

The commission heard the application on Monday, 16 November – the day the former president was expected to return to the hot seat. Zuma’s lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane painted the proceedings as being determined to label his client as corrupt. He questioned why Zondo alone was presiding over the inquiry, given its scale.

“We have spoken about how this commission was formed. I am surprised a commission this big has one chairperson. It was a political blunder. It should not have been done,” he said.

Zuma lawyer: State capture witnesses have an axe to grind

Sikhakhane claimed most of the 34 witnesses who have implicated Zuma, at the very same commission, were only seeking to settle old scores.

“The first days of this commission we were listening to people [shouting] from rooftops telling us that they were not corrupt. This commission lined them up in a way that is not intellectual,” he said.

“They have an axe to grind with Mr Zuma because he fired them. If you look at them, the star witnesses … what they came to say is a particular narrative about Mr Zuma. That selection lined up people that truly had a gripe and an axe to grind with Mr Zuma.”

Sikhakhane further called out Zondo for making comments, which he said could be deemed as being subjective. He said Zondo was in a powerful position, presiding over the proceedings, and that his utterances might be misconstrued by witnesses.

“You are a very powerful man sitting there. Once you put a proposition and they assume the chair is with me here, that witness will lurch to what they say is your predisposition,” he said.

He has warned that Zuma may opt to not say anything, should Zondo not recuse himself.

“When this commission is reviewed, you [Zondo] will be criticised, not the agenda some people are pushing behind the scenes. I can bring him here and tell him to say nothing, and that is a stalemate I can do,” Sikhakhane said to Zondo.

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