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State capture inquiry: Pressure mounts on Jacob Zuma to testify

18th June 2019 BY: News24Wire

The Zondo commission of inquiry has informed former president Jacob Zuma's lawyers that it urgently needs him to indicate whether he agrees to testify, BusinessLive reported.

In a letter, the commission wrote: "It has become urgent to know whether your client (Zuma) will appear before the commission on the dates given in our letter of 30 April 2019 as we are now about five weeks away from 15 July 2019. We, therefore request that your client advises us in writing by no later than Wednesday, 12 June 2019, next week whether he will appear before the commission on those dates."

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Pressure has been mounting on Zuma to answer to allegations witnesses made against him at the commission.

In September last year, commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said he would like Zuma to give his side of the story.

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"I have invited the lawyers of the former president [to request] that he could put his version in an affidavit," Zondo said.

In the latest letter, the commission states it would like "to give [Zuma] an opportunity to put his side of the story in regard to the matters covered by the witnesses listed in the annexure to that letter, and, to enable the chairperson and evidence leader to put such questions to him as they may wish to put to him in regard to matters covered by the witnesses' statements and evidence".

'I am innocent'

Despite being implicated by various witnesses - including Vytjie Mentor, Angelo Agrizzi, Themba Maseko, Nhlanhla Nene, Rajesh Sundaram and even his former ally, Fikile Mbalula - Zuma has repeatedly professed his innocence. 

"I have done nothing to anyone. There isn't a shred of evidence indicating that I have done anything warranting the treatment I am receiving," Zuma said, according to City Press.

According to Business Live, Zuma's lawyer, Daniel Mantsha, said his client continued to question the impartiality of the inquiry, while vehemently denying that the former president was not co-operating with its investigation.

However, Mantsha has reportedly asked acting inquiry secretary Peter Pedlar to explain under which of the inquiry's rules Zuma is being asked to testify.

He has also reiterated that the former president believed that the inquiry had become "politicised". Zuma maintains there is "not one shred of evidence" that implicates him in corruption or wrongdoing, writes Business Live. 

Mantsha reportedly said suggestions that Zuma was unwilling to co-operate were "unfounded".

Last year, however, Zuma hit out at the commission of inquiry, insisting that no arm of the state in South Africa has been captured and that it is just a "politically decorated expression".

"A state is composed of three elements: the legislature, executive and judiciary… that constitutes the state," Zuma told students towards the end of his address on free education at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, in September, News24 reported. 

"Does it mean that these three arms are captured? Is it true?" he asked.

"My view, and I am not disagreeing with anyone, [is that] these are politically decorated expressions. There is no state that is captured. Some people were doing things with [other] people," said Zuma.

"We point out that the terms of reference of this commission, which your client [Zuma] signed when he was still president, single out certain people for special mention. Those people include your client," Pedlar wrote. 

"Furthermore, a number of witnesses have mentioned your client. Also, your client was the head of state during either the years or some of the years when it is alleged that the state was captured. It is therefore inevitable that your client will get mentioned from time to time in the context of the work of the commission," Pedlar wrote.  

EDITED BY: News24Wire
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