We will take no further part in these proceedings.”
This is the announcement on Friday morning by former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane.
Zuma has withdrawn from proceedings at the commission of inquiry into state capture because he believes that it has thus far been been biased towards him, Sikhakhane told the judicial inquiry led by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
“We will take no further part in these proceedings. You will recall that on Monday I expressed my reservations that a commission, which is a creature of statute, which has set-out ground rules, writes a letter in June to say ‘we are calling your client in terms of no rules’. We expressed our reservations because this commission at all times has to comply with its ground rules,” Sikhakhane said.
“Those nine witnesses in terms of which my client has been brought here…Basically, our client from the beginning was treated as someone who must come and answer, as someone who is accused. Everyone who came had a grievance against him.
“A legal process must be cleansed of prejudices which come from outside…We therefore submit to you that there is something irrational about a parallel approach to the witness.
“We’ve come to tell you that because of the reservations we’ve raised and our experience in this room that my client has instructed me that he will take no further part in these proceedings.”
The commission’s evidence leader, Paul Pretorius, said Zuma’s legal team is expecting that the commission deviate from its rules and allow Zuma to testify without questioning him on the allegations levelled against him.
“There has been no agreement to deviate from any of the rules. We are quite happy to proceed in terms of the rules… The commission’s legal team has and will continue to exercise all the powers and perform all the duties of the commission,” he said.
“The commission’s legal team wishes to place on record that it has not made and does not intend to make any concessions.
“All witnesses are equally entitled to fair procedures,” said Pretorius.
Zuma, he said, “has not yet been cross-examined. He is still in the process of being questioned to elicit his full response in detail in respect of the nine witnesses who implicated him. Cross-examination will be addressed in terms of the rules when it arises.”
“We cannot enter into any arrangement that will deviate from those rules. We will seek to enforce, follow and apply the rules.”
Controversial ex-SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was in attendance at the state capture inquiry on Friday, where Zuma had been expected to resume his testimony following a day-long adjournment in his testimony.
Zuma arrived in a convoy of luxury vehicles under police escort and to chants of his name by his supporters inside the Parktown, Johannesburg, venue.
Ahead of his appearance, a pre-recorded interview with Sizwe Mpofu Walsh was released, during which Zuma was asked if he had any regrets about his time in the presidency.
“Not at all, I have no regrets,” Zuma responded.
The adjournment was requested by Zuma’s legal team on his third appearance before the commission on Wednesday, when Zuma said he had a problem with the commission’s evidence leader Paul Pretorius’s line of questioning.
Zuma was being quizzed on allegations by former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan that he, in 2009, had insisted on the appointment of Siyabonga Gama as Transnet chief executive. The commission was asking Zuma questions about the normal procedure when it came to the appointment of executives at state-owned entities.