The scheduled appearance of former president Jacob Zuma before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Monday has once again been contested by his lawyer, Eric Mabuza. 

In a letter addressed to the commission’s secretary Professor Itumeleng Mosala on Friday, Mabuza detailed the reasons for Zuma not appearing before the commission between 18 January and 22 January. 

Mabuza said “We respectfully disagree with the commission’s view that president Zuma is obliged to appear on 18-22 January 2021 on the basis set out in your letter”. 

Recall that just days before Zuma was due to appear before the commission last year, he filed a formal application for commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself. 

Mabuza has long accused the commission of “bullying” Zuma, and indicated possible bias from Zondo in October 2020. 

Zondo dismissed his own recusal application, citing “absolutely no evidence” to indicate that he and Zuma were friends, or that Zuma had to fly out of the country to seek medical attention last year, which was used as a reason for him not appearing before the commission. 

Mabuza said the review of the application to have Zondo recused, despite being set aside, “is yet to be determined by the [Constitutional] Court.” 

“In our respectful view, president Zuma can only be legally obliged to appear after his review application has been determined.” 

He further said that the commission deemed it appropriate to approach the Constitutional Court on “an extremely urgent basis” to compel Zuma to comply with “the very same summons that the commission now wants to enforce and to forego some of his most fundamental rights”.

He said “The commission must therefore await the outcome of the decision of the Constitutional Court.”

Mabuza added that the the commission’s application to the Constitutional Court was also dealing with another request, namely an order that Zuma “should not be allowed to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent”. 

He said the summons to compel Zuma to appear before the commission “cannot be legally enforced at this stage”.