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Zuma takes aim at Zondo following release of final report

Former president Jacob Zuma on Saturday announced his intentions to review those parts of the Zondo commission report into state capture in which he is directly implicated. 

The spokesperson for Zuma’s foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, made the former president’s intentions clear at a press briefing, where he lashed out at chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chaired the prolonged commission. 

Zondo had been bowing to factions for the duration of the commission and in his findings, according to Manyi. 

Zuma would also approach the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to review the legality of Zondo’s allegedly biased conduct as well as the commission’s breaches of the constitution. 

Zuma’s offensive follows the release of the final instalment of the six-part report, which found that the former president enabled the capture of the state via endemic corruption and fraud within the public sector. 

Zondo found that Zuma was essentially a puppet of the notorious Gupta family and was ready to do their bidding in efforts at self-enrichment. 

The report recommended that Zuma be investigated, alongside a clutch of his allies at the Union Buildings, with a view to possible prosecution for corruption, fraud and money-laundering.

According to the report, Zuma had built a parallel state to serve his political interests and the economic advances of his business allies. 

This, Zondo found, was done through the capturing of state-owned enterprises and government departments through the placement of pliable individuals such as former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni and ex-Eskom boss Brian Molefe.

State functionaries who did not toe the Gupta line, the commission found, were dealt with and removed from their positions. 

The foundation said that it would ask the JSC to investigate the grossly unlawful comments by Zondo, when he questioned the decision by former correctional services head Arthur Fraser to grant Zuma parole.  

“As the foundation we are totally convinced that the chief justice was giving a coded message to the supreme court of appeal to rule in a manner that would confirm what he has unilaterally declared as ‘questionable circumstances’. We, however, hope that this time the supreme court of appeal will not allow itself to be bullied into unlawful and unconstitutional conduct,” said Manyi.  

“The JSC will also be asked to investigate the unwarranted insults by the chief justice to President Zuma and the people of South Africa. Further to political meddling, chief justice Zondo decided to extend his scope of work and propose a system of how South Africans should elect their president. In his utterances, which were not informed by any submissions to the commission, he discouraged the party system and instead he pronounced in support of a system where the president is directly elected.” 

Manyi said Zuma had also instructed his legal team to accelerate the ongoing review of Zondo’s refusal to recuse himself from the commission. Zuma was convicted of contempt of a court order compelling him to testify before the commission, which led to his short imprisonment in 2021. The former president defiantly said he would not testify unless Zondo recused himself, citing the “bias” of the chief justice. 

“Given all his transgressions and displays of incompetence, the foundation has also separately instructed its own lawyers to look into the possibility of challenging the unlawful appointment of Justice Zondo as the chief justice of South Africa in spite of his dismal performance at the JSC interviews as observed by millions of South Africans on national television. An announcement in this regard will be made in due course,” said Manyi. 

Zuma has accused Zondo of breaching the judicial code of conduct which prescribes that a judge must, save in the discharge of judicial office, not comment publicly on the merits of any case pending before, or determined by, that judge or any other court. 

The foundation faults Zondo’s comments for coming as his parole matter is being appealed.  

Zuma also contends that Zondo breached the judicial code which prescribes that a judge must not, unless it is necessary for the discharge of judicial office, become involved in any political controversy or activity.

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