State capture inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has granted an order authorising the issuing of a summons compelling former president Jacob Zuma to appear before the commission for five days in November
Zondo granted the order on Friday morning after hearing an application which was brought by the legal team of the commission.
Zuma’s lawyers were not present at the commission.
Zondo said after reading the affidavits placed before him he was “satisfied” that it was a matter in which he should grant the application.
“I am satisfied that a proper case has been made out for an order authorising that the secretary of the commission should sign and issue a summons against Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, former president of the Republic of South Africa, to appear before the commission at 10:00 on 16 to 20 November 2020.”
He said should Zuma make appropriate arrangements with the commission prior to the dates to give evidence via video link “that would be a sufficient compliance with the summons”.
On Friday morning, head of the legal team Advocate Paul Pretorius SC told Zondo the issuing of summons was not uncommon practice. He said the commission had already issued 99 summons for witnesses to appear.
Pretorius said no one had a right not to appear before the commission.
He also said Zuma’s evidence was necessary and desirable for the work of the commission.
Pretorius said the former president’s evidence was necessary because most of the corruption and acts that might constitute state capture had occurred during his term in office.
He also added that 34 people who had already appeared before Zondo, had implicated the former president.
In September, Zondo gave Zuma non-negotiable dates to appear before the state capture inquiry.
He announced that the new dates for Zuma’s appearance to give evidence will be 16 to 20 November.
Zuma was initially scheduled to appear before the commission from 21 to 25 September.
However, his lawyers said he would not be appearing.
His lawyer, Eric Mabuza, wrote to the commission, saying it was unfair to expect his client to simultaneously consider evidence and affidavits of more than 30 witnesses in order to prepare himself to appear this month.
Mabuza also said Zuma was currently preparing for his much-anticipated criminal trial, “the importance of which cannot be over-emphasised”.
But on Friday morning, Pretorius said that was not “a good enough reason to refuse to appear”.
“But if the former president does believe it is, you chair, will exercise your discretion in terms of your mandate. You will exercise your discretion in terms of the directives that govern your chairing of the commission,” said Pretorius.
After Zondo made an ultimatum for Zuma to appear in November, the former president’s lawyers again wrote to the commission, asking Zondo to recuse himself due to his “biased disposition” toward the former leader.
Zuma stated that he was of the view that he was being “targeted” by the commission of inquiry.