If Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo doesn’t create an environment in which corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma feels comfortable – by recusing himself as the commission’s chair – Zuma will “exercise his right to say nothing”, says Zuma’s legal counsel, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane

On Monday morning, the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture continued with Zuma’s application demanding that Zondo recuse himself.

Sikhakhane said the commission has bought into a narrative that Zuma “messed up our country” by hearing testimony from “sweetheart witnesses” like Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, and former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan, “spewing all sorts of things from their moral high ground”.

He said Zondo’s comments during the testimony meant “political witnesses” latched on to those positions.

“Those witnesses were treated with a certain deference,” he said. He said this indicates a, “mind that is inclined to agree with a particular type of witness”.

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He said this led Zuma to view the commission as “the grave to bury him”.

Sikhakhane said if they lose the application, they’ll review it, and if he is forced to bring Zuma to the stand, “he’ll exercise his right to say nothing”.

He also questioned the concept of state capture, saying it is a political concept and has no legal basis.

“All states are captured. All states,” he said. He said this is the area of political contestation.

Sikhakhane said it is possible they are all “pawns in a very big intelligence game”.

He warned Zondo that it will be he who is criticised for the commission’s eventual report, not, “the people behind the scenes”, pushing an ethnic or racial agenda.

Sikhakhane also denied that Zuma has been ducking and diving about appearing before the commission or that he was employing Stalingrad tactics.

He said Zuma takes the stance that Zondo should recuse himself, because, “even when he was ill, you didn’t believe him”.

After Sikhakhane completed his arguments, Zondo said in two-and-a-half months, he would have been a judge for 24 years, and it is the first time in his career that he has been asked to recuse himself.

After lunch, the commission’s evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, was responding to Sikhakhane’s arguments.

At the start of the day’s proceedings, Zondo read a statement into the record in which he acknowledges that he knew Zuma, but denies that they shared a close, personal friendship.

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Author: News24.com