Former president Jacob Zuma has withdrawn his decision to not participate in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.
Following a break in Friday’s proceedings, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — the commission’s chair — revealed that Zuma would no longer be bowing out of the commission following complaints that he had been “relentlessly cross-examined”.
“It is contemplated within this agreement that at a certain stage, the former president will come back and give evidence,” Zondo said.
He added that, if Zuma does give oral evidence, it might be shortened based on his submission of written evidence to the commission.
The commission adjourned for over an hour to allow the Zondo to meet with Zuma’s legal team and the commission’s legal team in his chambers, after the former president’s counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane SC, said his client would be withdrawing from the proceedings.
When the commission reconvened, Zondo announced: “The discussions have resulted in an agreement that the decision that the former president would no longer participate in the proceedings is withdrawn and the former president has indicated that he wishes to continue to cooperate with this commission.”
Zondo said the discussion had been “fruitful” and “characterised by respect courtesy and a high level of professionalism from both sides”. He added that the agreement was reached after no longer than 10 minutes.
According to the agreement, the commission’s legal team will indicate to Zuma’s legal team its areas of interest in the evidence that implicates him.
The commission has previously indicated that it wants the former president to answer questions relating to the evidence of nine witnesses. This list of witnesses include former ministers, Barbara Hogan, Nhlanhla Nene and Ngoako Ramatlhodi; and current ministers, Pravin Gordhan and Fikile Mbalula.
Zondo said, as per the agreement, Zuma will provide a statement relating to the commission’s areas of interest.
Zuma was given an opportunity to respond to the day’s developments.
“I must thank you [Zondo] for the intervention you made … I think it is the right of anyone to raise their concerns if there are concerns … I think it is in the interest of all of us to address the issues that face this country,” he said.