Former president Jacob Zuma has indicated his willingness to appear before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture in July.
According to a statement issued by the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — it received a written undertaking from Zuma through his attorneys that he will appear before the commission on July 15 to 19.
According to a Business Day report on Tuesday, Zuma’s correspondences does not provide clarity on whether he will testify before the commission or cross-examining witnesses who implicated him.
Peter Pedlar, the commission’s acting secretary reportedly sent Dan Mantsha — Zuma’s lawyer — a letter earlier this month inviting the former president to the commission and urging him to respond by no later than June 12.
The Zondo commission then released a statement last week confirming that in April, they had set the July 15 to 19 dates for Zuma to make his appearance.
The commission further added that it would enable Zuma to give his side of the story in response to the testimonies in which he was implicated. The commission said it will also question Zuma on the evidence provided against him.
Since the beginning of the inquiry in August 2018, Zuma has been implicated in a number of testimonies including those of ministers, officials from state-owned enterprises and former members of Parliament.
The commission said that Zuma has not given a written undertaking that he will appear since the commission contacted his legal team on April 30. “Mr Zuma, has among other things, insisted that he be furnished in advance with the questions that he will be asked on the witness stand before he can consider whether to give the required under-taking,” the statement added.
But Zuma will not be afforded the opportunity to be furnished with the questions he will be asked before he appears.
The commission said that it is enough that he has been enabled to give his side of the story in response to witnesses who have implicated him and “the questions he will be asked will be confined to the issues covered in the statements or affidavits or evidence of those witnesses”.
Zuma has not shied away from expressing his views about the commission. In a letter sent to the commission dated May 31, he argued through his legal team that the Zondo commission has been designed to push a nefarious political agenda, and he accused the inquiry of ”publicly and in an unprecedented way” singling him out.
The commission responded by saying: “We point out that the terms of reference of this Commission which your client signed when he was still President single out certain people for special mention. Those people include your client. Furthermore, a number of witnesses have mentioned your client. Also, your client was the Head of State during either the years or some of the years when it is alleged that the State was captured. It is therefore inevitable that your client will get mentioned from time to time in the context of the work of the Commission.”
However, in the statement that was released last week, the commission said that it has acknowledged Zuma’s views and allegations against the commission “but does not wish to deal with those here”.