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Friday, June 14, 2024

South Africa corruption inquiry to summon Zuma to appear next month


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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A South African corruption inquiry will issue a summons for former president Jacob Zuma to appear to give evidence next month, the judge chairing the proceedings said on Friday.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said Zuma would be required to appear on Nov. 16-20, adding that this could be via videolink if appropriate arrangements were made.

“The secretary of the commission is hereby authorised and directed to sign and issue a summons … requiring Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, former president of the Republic of South Africa, to appear,” Zondo said.

The inquiry was set up more than two years ago to test allegations that Zuma allowed the Gupta brothers, friends of his, to plunder state resources and influence government appointments during his nine years in power.

Zuma was ousted by the governing African National Congress (ANC) in February 2018, and his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa has been trying to clean up the ANC’s image and revive investor confidence.

Zuma, who appeared at the inquiry in July 2019 but has declined to return and now says Zondo is biased against him and wants to publicly humiliate him, has denied that he broke the law with the Guptas.

The Guptas have refuted allegations of wrongdoing. They left South Africa around the time Zuma was ousted.

The inquiry’s lawyers have tried to get Zuma to appear to answer more questions but he has not done so.

Zuma has previously said through his lawyers that he was unable to attend the inquiry. His reasons have included that he was preparing for a criminal trial and that his doctors had advised him to limit his movements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zuma said through his lawyers last month that he would apply for Zondo’s recusal.

Asked for a reaction on Friday to Zondo’s summons, one of Zuma’s lawyers Eric Mabuza said: “We are hard at work preparing the formal application for the recusal of the Chairperson of the Commission, DCJ Zondo. We expect to file the application in the coming weeks.”