Protest march for the recusal of Deputy Chief Justice Zondo as Chair of the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture
8 October 2020
The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group will be holding a legal gathering and march tomorrow, Friday the 9th of October 2020, to protest against the biased manner in which the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture under the chairpersonship of Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, have targetted President Jacob Zuma. It is evident that the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture is not balanced, objective, and neutral in the manner that it has conducted itself since its inception.
In addition to having specifically targetted President Zuma, it has selectively targetted certain bodies of evidence, and individuals, while having ignored critically important evidence against others, and failed to call/allow persons who fall outside its target group to appear before the Commission. We are convinced that it is no coincidence that those who have been targetted are overwhelmingly proponents of Radical Economic Transformation (RET). It is common knowledge that President Zuma is the most prominent exponent of Radical Economic Transformation, and we maintain that he is being targetted so viciously and publically, exactly for that reason.
The shocking, and entirely inapropriate, media conference that Judge Zondo called on the 21st of September where he saw it fit to - for the third time - publicly address arrangements concerning President Zuma giving evidence before the Commission, is evidence of the selective and vindictive manner in which he targets President Zuma. No other person who had been called to appear before the Commission had been given similar disrespectful treatment. In fact there have been several other witnesses where there had been various reasons for delays in them appearing before the Commission, but the Commission’s engagements with them have been, and continue to be, through direct personal, contact.
The most notable example is that of Minister Pravin Gordahn who is due to appear before the Commission for cross-examination, but who has not done so to the point where he is defiant and arrogant in being unavailable. Yet, despite such disdainful conduct towards the Commission Judge Zondo has not seen it fit to address Mr. Gordahn’s persistent absence at the Commission through a media conference, nor threatened to subpoena him. Instead he continues to respond personally to the Minister with the utmost subservient deference and respect. As the Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group previously pointed out, in our media statement of the 22nd of September, we are also aware that other witnesses who are to appear before the Commission have indicated their availability to do so with immediate effect, among those Mr. Lucky Montana (who had written two letters to the Commission to that effect), but the Commission does not seem to be in a rush at all to call them.
There are other persons such as messrs Brian Molefe and Arthur Fraser who have literally pleaded to appear before the Commission, but the Comission had not seen it neccesarry for them to be called. In the case of Mr. Molefe he has actually provided the Commission with a thirty page affidavit, but he was not called by the Commission to appear before it during the critical enquiry into Eskom. We are convinced that the reason for this extraordinary step, to ignore an absolutely crucial witness with regards to Eskom, is because of those who are implicated in the said affidavit by Mr. Molefe. The only rush, and urgency, to get a very specific witness before it, has singularly been reserved for President Zuma.
The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group agrees with the letter from President Zuma’s attorneys to Mr. Justice Zondo, dated the 28th of September, that the targetting of President Zuma has indeed been the hallmark of the Commision’s approach since it commenced with its proceedings. From the conduct of the Chair of the Commission it is overwhelmingly clear that he had already adopted a biased disposition towards President Zuma, and that therefore it is impossible that he can apply an impartial mind to the issues, and the evidence that relate to him. We also note that there are historical strained personal, family and professional relations between President Zuma, and Judge Zondo.
These clearly constitute a conflict of interest, but Judge Zondo never saw it fit to declare such. All in all, we agree that the Chairperson’s conduct has stripped the Commission of its crucially required legitimacy. This is also demonstrated in that the Chairperson in engagements with witnesses testifying before him indicated that he has aleady prejudged the issues that he is tasked to investigate.
In particular Judge Zondo made prejudicial statements about President Zuma while addressing some witnesses who had made absolutely no reference at all to President Zuma, yet he went out of his way to drag President Zuma into the discourse. Evidently the Chairperson of the Commission has already made up his mind, and joined the narrative that seeks to present President Zuma as the cause of all the corruption that he is tasked to investigate. This is a totally untenable situation! The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group fully concurs with President Zuma in his call for the recusal of Judge Zondo as Chair of the Commission. We fully support President Zuma’s decision that he will take no further part in the Commission until the matter of Judge Zondo’s recusal is finally determined, and concur with President Zuma in his questioning of the lawfulness of the establishment of the Commission.
It is our well considered view that the work of the Commission is irrevocably compromised and tainted, not only through the entirely unacceptable conduct of its Chairperson, and only presiding Commissioner, but also because its overall biased and persistent targetting of only certain persons, with certain political ideological pursuasions. Right from the beginning when the Commission was formed we have warned that the mandate of the Commission is far too narrow, and in fact fatally flawed. We warned that it has been established as a factional political attack tool.
The correctness of that view is now amply demonstrated in practice through the vindictive, biased, and narrow minded conduct of the Commission and its Chair. Thus, in calling for the recusal of Judge Zondo, we also call for the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture to be dissolved. Anything less will be a travesty of justice. The first leg of tomorrow’s march will take us to the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture that is currently in session at the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality Chambers in Braamfontein. We have specifically dediced to march on Friday the 9th of October in order to drive our demands home, because it is also tomorrow that the Leader of Evidence, advocate Paul Pretorius, will be presenting his brazen application for President Zuma to be subpoenaed to Judge Zondo.
We will insist for Judge Zondo to come out of the Commission hearing, and to receive in person our Memorandum of Demands. The second leg of the march will be to the Constitutional Court at Constitional Hill. At the Constitutional Court we will present to the Honorable Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, a further Memorandum of Demands calling on the Chief Justice to urgently remove Judge Zondo from his position as Chair of the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture. It was the Chief Justice who appointed Judge Zondo to the position of Chair, and we believe that it is within his legal prorogative to now also remove him. We will certainly be hugely surprised if the Chief Justice is not already deeply concernded about the unbecoming conduct of his Deputy Chief Justice.
We will also raise our concern with the Chief Justice about the serious allegations that there are judges who have received money from the sealed bank accounts of the CR17 campaign, as well as other persistent allegations of the bribing of judges. Until these bank accounts are opened, and they can be perused fully, without any hindrance whatsoever, serious doubts about the independence of the judiciary will remain. As it is, there are persistent rumours that certain judges allow their rulings to be influenced because they have been paid. Even the actual ruling to seal the bank accounts in question is suspect and called into question on this basis. Surely this must be a matter of serious concern for the Chief Justice, and he certainly cannot allow this situation to fester on. In the same context we also call on President Cyril Ramaphosa, and those with him who are ultimately responsible for the sealing of the CR17 bank accounts, to open them urgently for full unhindered scrutiny.
Public accountability is now of the essence, and is the only antidote to the dark, poisonous, clouds that have gathered. We believe this is in the interest of President Ramaphosa, whose own integrity and election as President of the ANC, will continue to labour under suspicion and allegations of illigtimacy, until the bank accounts are unsealed. Both as President of the ANC, and of our country, President Ramaphosa should surely be deeply concerned about how the serious matter of some judges allegedly having been paid from bank accounts associated with him, undermine the trust in, and integrity, of our judiciary. Thus, our march tomorrow is also to call on President Ramaphosa to finally do the right thing, and open the bank accounts. While the primary objective of tomorrow’s march is to call for the recusal of Judge Zondo, as the Chairperson of the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture, and furthermore for the Commission to be dissolved, we cannot ignore the current political context.
Only a few days ago we have learnt of a warrant of arrest for the Secretary General of the African National Congress, comrade Ace Magashule. The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group has no doubt that this warrant of arrest, and the vicious reporting and character assasination that comrade Magashule has been subjected to, falls within the same ambit of specifically targetting those leaders who have expressed themselves unambigiously in favour of the ANC’s official economic policy programme of Radical Economic Transformation (RET). In this context the Secretary General of the ANC, who is standing firm on the full implimentation of the Resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the ANC, is targeted. Every Secretary General in the 108 year long history of the ANC has always seen the implimentation of the Resolutions of National Conferences as the most important task, and duty bestowed on the Office of the Secretary General (SGO).
This is the core business of the SGO, and any attempt to undermine the Secretary General in carrying out his duties - which we firmly believe is the intention of the the warrant of arrest against comrade Ace Magashule - is seditious and counter revolutionary. It is no coincidence - neither in timing or content - that after having carefully prepared the ground with the propaganda smear campaign against the Secretary General, now that there is a call for those who are being charged to step aside, that the warrant of arrest was issued. There are no coincidences in politics, and history has no empty pages. We are are fully aware that the plan to remove the Secretary General of the ANC was long in the making, and is now being put into action with meticulous counter-revolutionary precision.
Thus our march will also be a march against the targeting of the Secretary General of the ANC. Our message will be unequivocally clear: "Hands off comrade Ace Magashule!"; "We are comrade Ace, and comrade Ace is us!"; "You touch comrade Ace Magashule, you touch all of us!". The logistical details of the march are as follows: Date: 9 October 2020 Starting/gathering point: Mary Fitzgerald Square, 120 Lillian Ngoyi Street, Newtown, Johannesburg Time: The gathering of marchers, and rally before the march starts, will commenced at 09:00. The route of the march will take us to the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture at the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality Chambers, and finally onwards to the Constitutional Court at Constitutional Hill. All concerned and progressive South Africans are invited to join us in this march. We reach out to all faith based organisations, NGO's, CBO's, progressive student formations, workers and the unemployed community, to join us.
Issued by Carl Niehaus on behalf of the Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group, 8 October 2020