JOHANNESBURG, September 14 – Former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday said he was “applying his mind” to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s request that he answer to the damning state capture allegations against him by witnesses.
Zuma, who had told university students on Wednesday that there was no state capture in South Africa, said he had cooperated with the Zondo-led commission. He said it seemed his option not to quiz witnesses was seen as lack of cooperation from him.
“We find this very unfortunate since the former president has sent his legal representatives to every sitting of the commission where the alleged evidence which may implicate him was being give. Furthermore, he has honoured all the commission’s requests brought to him through his legal team,” read his press statement sent by his legal team.
The former president said he respected the commission and wanted to “participate meaningfully” in the inquiry.
“He reiterates this position and therefore he will apply his mind over the invite and shall convey his reply to the chairman of the commission as soon as he has consulted with his team.”
Zondo said he has requested Zuma through his lawyers to submit an affidavit stating his side of the story as he was implicated by former member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor and former government spin doctor Themba Maseko.
The two witnesses placed Zuma and the controversial Guptas at the centre of state capture and corruption.
Maseko testified that he received a call from Zuma to “help the Guptas” ahead of his meeting with them at their Saxonwold compound. He said Ajay ordered him to channel government’s R600 million advertising budget to the family’s media holdings, The New Age newspaper and ANN7 news channel.
He further said that the Guptas asked him to inform them if any ministers or their officials resisted, so that he could tell then president Zuma to “deal with them”.
State capture commission of inquiry chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has appealed to former president Jacob Zuma to provide the inquiry with his side of the story.
”There are areas I would like him [Zuma] to deal with, such as the evidence by [ex-ANC MP] Ms Mentor, that while she was at the Gupta evidence and when she became agitated,and the former president emerged from one of the rooms and walked her to the car, as well as the evidence by [former government spin doctor] Mr Maseko that he received a call from him on the afternoon on which he was leaving his offices to attend a meeting with Ajay Gupta. I have invited lawyers for Zuma and indicated my wish that he puts his version in an affidavit to assist this commission. His attorney here has undertaken to convey that invitation,” said Zondo.
Maseko and Mentor placed Zuma and the controversial Guptas at the centre of state capture and corruption. Maseko testified that he received a call from Zuma to ”help the Guptas” ahead of his meeting with them at their Saxonwold compound. He said Ajay ordered him to channel government’s R600 million advertising budget to the family’s media holdings, The New Age newspaper and ANN7 news channel. He further said that the Guptas asked him to inform them if any ministers or their officials resisted, so that he could tell then President Jacob Zuma to ”deal with them”.
Zuma, has reportedly through his lawyers, submitted to the inquiry that there was no need for him to answer as he has not been implicated at the inquiry so far. However, the explosive testimonies of Mentor and Maseko has painted him in different light.
Addressing students at the Water Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, the former president bashed the commission and reiterated that there is ”no State that is captured,” despite having established the commission in 2017 as per former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendations. Zuma said ”state capture” is politically motivated.
”There is no state that is captured… the judiciary is not captured, Parliament is not captured…so where is the state capture?” Zuma asked.
“There is no state capture in South Africa, there are people who did things to others, but there is no such thing called state capture. Let us not swallow everything that is given to us.”
The inquiry will resume on Monday, where senior bank managers will give evidence regarding their decision to close Gupta companies’ bank accounts.
The commission of inquiry into state capture granted Duduzane Zuma permission to cross examine witnesses, while his former business partners, the Gupta family’s application was turned down.
Commission chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo rejected the controversial family’s option to participate via video link from a location in Dubai, as he would not be able to exercise the commission’s powers. Not hearing their side of the story would not be because they were stopped from doing so, he said, but that they chose to not travel to South Africa and state their case.
There would be no special treatment for the Guptas, said Zondo.
”As long as they are prepared to appear personally before the commission where it can exercise its powers over them, their application cannot be granted…but once they are within the borders of South Africa and are prepared to appear personally, I will have no problem granting them such permission,” Zondo said.
”It quite clear that Mr Ajay Gupta is seriously implicated, and it would be fair that he be granted an opportunity to cross-examine any witness that implicated him. If they change their minds, this commission will have no difficulty in granting them application. Their application to cross-examine is dismissed.”
Zondo added that due to jurisdictional restrictions and the fact that the family have made it clear they will never return to South Africa, the commission would be at the Guptas’ mercy as they could ignore instructions issued to them while overseas.
‘If I were to grant such permission, I would be creating two classes of witnesses – those who agree to appear personally and subjected to criminal prosecution if they gave evidence knowing it is false and that of Ajay and Rajesh, who would not face criminal sanctions if they did the same. They would enjoy special treatment no other witness who appears here enjoys. This commission sees no reason to grant them any special treatment…and it will not do so.”
The Guptas brothers – Ajay and Rajesh, wanted to quiz ex-parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor, former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and former finance minister Mcebisis Jonas over their damning evidence implication the family and placing them in the center of state capture and corruption.
Regarding Duduzane, Zondo said him having changed his mind and deciding to testify, has made his application fall into the same category as that of businessman Fana Mokoena and former Zuma aide Lakela Kaunda, among other applicants. He was therefor allowed to be cross-examine Jonas. The latter testified that the former president’s son met with him and then drove him to the Gupta’s Saxonwold compound where he was offered a finance minister post and a R600 million bribe. (ANA)