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The state capture commission started the week by hearing the application by Mabuza Attorneys, the law firm representing former president Jacob Zuma. The graft-tainted leader appeared on five occasions at the state capture inquiry and has refused to return since. A subpoena was then issued by Judge Ray Zondo for Zuma to attend, as there are 34 witnesses who have implicated him in state capture. Several of the witnesses have referenced Zuma as ‘number one’ and having given instructions to the Gupta family and senior officials at Eskom, Transnet, Denel and SAA. Zuma has listed Zondo’s close family ties, a narrative that he is responsible for widespread corruption at state-owned enterprises and comments made allegedly painting him as guilty at the commission. Zuma has since filed a lengthy affidavit in which he details his personal relationship with Zondo – Bernice Maune
By Bernice Maune
According to Zuma’s 102-page affidavit, he first met Zondo in the early 1990s when he was an attorney and partner at Mathe-Zondo Attorneys in Durban.
“During his period as an attorney and partner at this firm, I interacted with him and his partner, then Mr Mathe on several occasions. Occasionally, I sought legal advice and professional assistance from the firm, in particular, from Deputy Chief Justice Zondo and his partner, Mathe, on various matters.
“During this period, I developed a good relationship with Deputy Chief Just Zondo and constantly consulted him on professional matters which required legal assistance. This professional relationship developed into a personal one as a result of which we both constantly met on social occasions and public gatherings that were organised by government,” said Zuma.
The former president went on to cite an instance where he recommended Zondo to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for assistance with legal matters pertaining to his businesses. However, Zondo’s partner at the law firm, Mathe ended up becoming Zwelithini’s legal counsel as he was related to the King. Zondo and Zuma continued being acquaintances, meeting at social functions and gatherings.
When Zuma married Thobeka Madiba, he was unaware that she had a sister, with whom Zondo had a child. According to Zuma, once he found out, he continued having a cordial family relationship with Zondo.
The Deputy Chief Justice has since declared this, stating it was not a conflict of interest as he was no longer in a relationship with Madiba’s sister.
“About 25 years ago, when I was in my 30s and was still in private practise as a lawyer – I got into a relationship with a certain woman, out of which a child was born. That relationship ended during the 90s. It had ended so many years before that marriage, has never had any bearing on the execution of my judicial functions in the many matters involving Mr Zuma in which I have sat as a justice of the constitutional Court since 2012, nor does it have any bearing on the execution of my duties as chairperson of the commission,” said Zondo.
According to Zuma, he had no reservations in appointing Zondo the deputy chief justice despite them still being close and Zondo visiting his house on several occasions.
“Although I remained guarded in the manner in which I interacted with him, it was not a conscious decision to conceal my relationship with him. I can categorically state that I never sought any special favours from him based on our relationship. We never engaged in conversations that could compromise his and my political role. I kept a healthy relationship and never sought to place him in a professionally compromising position at all. I t is not clear what has made him hostile towards me.
Zuma adds that Zondo’s hostility, their history, family ties and his unkind public comments about state capture mean he is incapable of being unbiased towards him.
“For whatever reason, his comments about me betray a mind that is biased or at least enthused to publicly demonstrate he holds no brief for me,” Zuma stated.
See the full affidavit below:
- Zuma: Reality is a fiction of his imagination
- Zuma: Why any attempt to put him behind bars is politically impossible — Anthea Jeffery
- Zondo vs Zuma: stony silence from judge accused of settling old personal scores – Zuma letter
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