Johannesburg – The Friday sitting of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture ended on a positive note after former president Jacob Zuma retracted his decision to withdraw from proceedings.
This after commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s intervention in the impasse between the commission’s legal team and that of the former president’s.
Before a break in proceedings, the former president’s legal team announced Zuma’s intention to withdraw from proceedings, citing issues around the questions Zuma was being subjected to.
Following a lengthy exchange between the two legal teams, Zondo requested to meet with both legal teams to resolve the impasse and find a way forward.
Upon his return, he addressed the commission on the outcomes of these discussions, which he described as "fruitful".
"I think a commitment to try and look at any suggestion put on the table to try and find a way forward. The discussions have resulted in an agreement that one; the decision that the former president would no longer participate in proceedings is withdrawn and that the former president, I’ve been told, has indicated that he wished to continue to cooperate with this commission and his legal team also wish to continue to work with this commission.
"It has been agreed that the way in which former president’s concerns may be taken care of is that the commission’s legal team will indicate to his legal team what the commission’s areas of interest are in each witness’s statement or affidavit on which the commission or they would like the former president to testify and that thereafter the former president will then provide, through his legal team, statements that indicate what he has to say on the incidents or areas of interest that will have been pointed out by the commission’s legal team."
Zondo confirmed that the two teams would meet within the next two weeks to finalise the matter.
The two would also agree on a time-frame on when Zuma’s counsel would hand over Zuma’s statements.
"If the two sides are not able to agree on the time-frame, they will approach me and I will hear both sides and make a decision on a time-frame," Zondo said.
Zuma thanked the commission chair for his intervention, stressing the right of anyone appearing before the commission to raise concerns and have them looked at.
"I think it’s the right of anyone to raise concerns and the concerns should be looked at. I appreciate that you were able to meet two legal teams and found the way forward because I think it’s in the interest of all of us to address issues that face this country in whatever form.
"I think no one should have the wrong impression that the raising of the concerns was just done to disrupt or whatever the process. These were genuine concerns that needed to be looked at, so I’m happy that we have found a solution so that this commission will be able to move to its finalities with our contributions," he said.
Zondo did not announce when Zuma would return but confirmed that the commission would sit on Monday, where the focus will be on the Estina Dairy Farm matter.
The commission adjourned for the day.