/ 25 February 2021

Zuma tells ANC top six not to hold their breath

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Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission in Johannesburg. (Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

Former president Jacob Zuma has reiterated he will only go to the state capture commission if chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo recuses himself, according to those who have gone to his Nkandla homestead to negotiate with him. 

The ANC’s top six were expected to meet with Zuma this week; however, the former president refused. 


The Mail & Guardian understands Zuma told secretary general Ace Magashule that he would not meet with the top officials after he was booted out as ANC president when he was recalled in 2018. 

“The old man did not mince his words. He has been clear that if Zondo is in charge, they can forget about him appearing at the commission no matter what stunt they pull to persuade him,” a member close to the talks said. 

Zuma has been at loggerheads with Zondo since he applied for the deputy chief justice’s recusal as chair last year. 

The former head of state claims Zondo has an axe to grind and that he is conflicted due to his relationship with the Zuma family. 

The commission this week asked the Constitutional Court to hand down a punitive sentence for Zuma’s defiance. This, though, has opened a window for Zuma.


“Should this court be inclined to grant a suspension of the order of imprisonment on condition that Mr Zuma appears and gives evidence before the commission and submits his affidavits as directed … the commission would need to make appropriate legal arrangements.”

This window has become wider as the commission has been granted another three months to finalise its work — but no more funding. 

The ANC Women’s League has also indicated it will be visiting Nkandla to talk to the “old man”. The league’s visit follows that of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Associa­tion and ANC Youth League members from different provinces. One national executive committee member said the meeting is intended to show support for Zuma. 

“The women’s league always has and will always stand beside the former president. We have been clear about our position that there is political interference in matters that relate to the judiciary, and we intend to mobilise support for Zuma and others,” a member of the NEC in the ANC Women’s League.

The league’s president Bathabile Dlamini was among leaders who supported Magashule during his second appearance at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court last week. 

Magashule has been unwavering in his support, urging the media to leave Zuma alone. This contrasts with the party’s position and that of Ramaphosa, who has called for party leaders to respect and cooperate with the state capture commission.