Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was summoned to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on 15 February 2021, and to give evidence. This follows after he was implicated in wrong doing by several witnesses who testified before the Commission. He indicated that he is not prepared to appear before the Commission and to give evidence. Zuma previously walked out of the Commission while he was giving evidence and never returned. When asked to appear again, he refused. The Secretary of the Commission approached the Constitutional Court for an order compelling the former president to appear before the Commission. Mr Zuma did not oppose the application in the Constitutional Court. The Court ruled that Mr Zuma was not entitled to refuse to attend the proceedings and that he was further not entitled to remain silent when he attends the proceedings although he was entitled to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions.
Upon hearing of this ruling, Mr Zuma once again repeated his position that he was not prepared to appear before the Commission. Subsequent to that, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, visited former president Zuma at his Nkandla homestead and held some discussions with him. Speculation was that Mr Malema wanted to persuade Mr Zuma to cooperate with the Commission. After that meeting, Mr Zuma did not change his position. With the date for appearance before the Commission looming, the ANC military veterans, MKMVA, also paid a visit to the former President at his Nkandla home. This time, the aim was to show support to the former President in his stance not to appear before the Commission.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC held a virtual meeting over the weekend to discuss various issues affecting the party and the country. The ANC, the African National Congress, is the ruling party in South Africa. A statement issued by the ANC at the end of the NEC meeting was that the ANC re-iterates its commitment to cooperate with the State Capture Commission and call on all its members to support the work of the Commission. The ANC itself has been summoned to appear before the Commission and President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the ANC delegation that will give evidence before the commission. This was clearly in reference to former president Zuma who was also present at the virtual meeting, together with former President Thabo Mbeki.
It remains to be seen whether former president Zuma will attend the Commission on Monday 15 February 2021. Commission Chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has refused to be drawn into any debate as to what will happen if the former President does not attend the hearing on 15 February 2021 preferring instead to listen to the matter when it is brought before him. The Commission has previously said that it is not a court of law and therefor does not have powers to convict any witnesses appearing before it and to impose any penalties on the basis of evidence led before it by such witnesses. The Commission’s role is to collect evidence relating to state capture and make its own findings based on that evidence. The findings may eventually be used by law enforcement agencies such as the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority-the NPA- which have powers to institute prosecutions. Other than to say that the Commission is biased against him, the former President has never explicitly given any reasons as to why he does not want to appear before the Commission. Many have argued that his refusal to cooperate with the Commission and the Courts may create a Constitutional crises given his position as former president.