ANC gives Zuma ‘space’ to speak to lawyers over blanking of Zondo commission

Former president Jacob Zuma made an ‘extensive presentation’ to the ANC’s top leadership on Monday over why he won’t appear before the state capture commission

Former president Jacob Zuma will be given ‘space’ to consult his lawyers over his refusal to appear before the state capture commission, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said on Monday night.

The ANC’s top six officials have failed to convince former president Jacob Zuma to change his mind about appearing before the state capture commission of inquiry.

During a meeting on Monday — which was initially meant to be in-person at the party’s headquarters at Luthuli House but ended up being held virtually — Zuma told the officials that as much he respected the constitution, he also had his rights.

Briefing the media following the meeting, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the meeting ended up agreeing that Zuma would be given space to continue speaking to his lawyers about his refusal to appear before the commission.

“The top six heard his explanation and agreed to give him space to continue consulting with his lawyers on these issues which he has actually raised [on] whether to appear before the commission,” Magashule said. “We have left that matter because he will further consult with his lawyers.”

Zuma, according to Magashule, made an “extensive presentation” in which he detailed his reasons for defying the Constitutional Court which had ordered him to appear before the commission. He stood his ground and told the top six officials that he did not have a problem with the commission itself and that he would appear only if its chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, was to recuse himself.

Zuma told the top six that this was his stance even though the Constitutional Court rejected the reasoning.

The ANC national executive committee had asked the top six officials to meet Zuma to see if they could convince him to change his mind, seeing how his defiance of the Constitutional Court judgment could cause issues in the country.

But it appears this attempt has failed.

Zuma, instead told the top six officials how the judiciary had treated him unfairly over the past 20 years.

“Comrade Zuma made a very extensive presentation on what has prompted his decision not to appear before what you term the Zondo commission, and he also talked about his rights as enshrined in the constitution of SA and the rights of all South Africans. And we all agreed that there has been no intention to undermine the constitution of SA. Comrade Zuma told the top six that he believes he has been subjected to unfair persecution and prosecution over two decades,” Magashule said.

He added: “He emphasised that as law abiding he respects the constitution and that he too is entitled to basic rights as enshrined in the constitution.

“Top six agreed that we have heard Zuma, we have engaged, we all very happy with the engagements, the discussions and all of us are saying we need to ensure that we build unity of SA, the unity of our structures, all of us must unite, build the ANC and continue respecting the constitution and the bill of rights.”

Magashule also confirmed, as the Sunday Times Daily reported, that the meeting was supposed to have been held at Luthuli House but due to “logistical glitches” it ended up being virtual. ​

by Kgothatso Madisa

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