Durban – The State Capture Inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo, has come under fire from supporters of Jacob Zuma who are accusing it of “targeting” the former president.
Zuma’s supporters, who have banded themselves under the banner of Gauteng Radical Economic Transformation and President Zuma Support Group, said Monday’s press conference on Zondo was aimed at demonising Zuma.
During the conference, Zondo announced he was not willing to negotiate appearance dates with Zuma or his lawyers and set November 16-20 this year as the time the former president should appear before the commission.
He said the appearance would allow Zuma to respond to all those who have implicated him while testifying before the commission.
The support group’s fightback regarding this is contained in a long critical statement issued on Tuesday where they claimed that Zondo and his commission seems to be pre-occupied with getting Zuma to appear before it while leaving others to walk free.
“Judge Zondo has never seen it fit before to address arrangements for witnesses who are to appear in front of his commission through media conferences, but he saw it fit to target President Zuma for such special, disrespectful, treatment.
“In fact this is actually the second time that Judge Zondo has seen fit to do so, as he had also previously addressed the matter of President Zuma giving evidence before the Commission when the work of the commission commenced,” reads the statement.
Zuma’s supporters claimed that Zondo gave “lame excuses” for his decision to address the matter via a press conference instead of addressing it with Zuma or his lawyers, as the commission’s secretariat has done with other people it required it attention or presence.
“In holding yesterday’s (Monday) media conference Judge Zondo came up with the flimsiest of excuses, namely that he had enquiries from the media about President Zuma’s future appearance, and that he wanted to address those. The question arises since when do questions from the media set the agenda of the work of the Commission?
“The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group had done our homework (sic), and established that several media houses have sent questions to the commission enquiring about the future appearance of (public enterprises) Minister (Pravin) Gordhan before it, but these queries have not garnered Judge Zondo to rush into holding (a) media conference,” the supporters alleged.
The supporters further questioned why Zondo and his secretariat was ignoring requests to testify from people like Brian Molefe, the former chief executive of Eskom and Lucky Montana, the former chief executive of PRASA but were jumping to Zuma.
“The only rush, and urgency, to get a very specific witness before it, seems to be singularly reserved for President Zuma.
“Evidently, the Commission has specific persons that it is targeting and the appearance of witnesses before the Commission are not equal-opportunity moments.
“It is evident that the prime target that the Commission and its Chair have in their cross-hairs, and are literally hunting down, is President Zuma.”
The spokesperson of the commission, Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela, said they would respond in due course.