When the going gets tough, the tough get their lawyers to tell the judge that they won’t take further questions because they’re being treated unfairly.
We’ve covered day one of Zuma’s testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture (assassination plots and apartheid spies), and day two will probably be remembered for Zuma’s ‘Dodge, Distract, Deny’ tactics, when he suddenly couldn’t recall all sorts of important details and meetings.
Day three, whilst less explosive, sure ended with a bang. This from News24:
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has adjourned the commission into state capture until Friday after former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team complained that their client had been brought in under false pretences.
This came after Zuma’s legal team threatened to withdraw him from testifying, with advocate Muzi Sikhakhane saying that his client was being cross-examined on hearsay testimony.
What was meant to be a 30-minute recess to discuss a possible withdrawal turned into an hour-long deliberation between the commission’s and Zuma’s legal teams on whether the former president would continue giving his testimony…
Zuma believes that he has been victimised by the commission.
Shame. The guy who ran the country for nine years has surely worn out the victim card during these first three days.
Zuma’s discomfort stemmed from the fact that evidence leader Paul Pretorius questioned him on some details from former minister Barbara Hogan’s testimony, where she outlined how he had broken protocol in appointing Siyabonga Gama as Transnet CEO.
When advocate Muzi Sikhakhane requested the 30-minute recess, he said that he now thinks he made a mistake in advising Zuma to appear before the commission.
In other words, Zuma wanted two days to talk about spies and assassinations and overseas hitmen, and then, as the screws tighten, he wants out.
Cowardice at its finest.
As the Daily Maverick points out, we all knew it was coming:
Even before Zuma took the oath at the commission there were certain issues that could be stated with confidence. One was that it was never in his interests to be in a position in which he would be cross-examined about events that occurred during his presidency. Some of the decisions he took — firing Nene or appointing Bruce Koloane as an ambassador, for example, defy easy explanation.
But he was always interested in taking the stand to change the narrative, spinning a story involving many spies and copious threats to his life.
A brief examination of Zuma’s history shows that he has always claimed certain authorities or institutions act unfairly towards him. To listen to Zuma over the years may be to believe that every single independent institution in the country is out to get him. That he is unique in this, no one else in SA history has suffered such injustice.
Sounds like a certain American leader, right? The mindset of a narcissist.
It’s important to note that Zuma appears at the commission not under subpoena, but rather at its invitation. This means that he can walk away when he sees fit.
Then he can paint a picture of unfair treatment by Zondo, evidence leader Paul Pretorius, and others involved, saying that his willing participation was cut short by those out to vilify him.
Where does this leave us, and also the ANC?
…it is already possible to make some examination of the possible political consequences of Zuma’s testimony so far.
Views of Zuma, the ways that he is seen by different people, are already deeply entrenched. It seems unlikely that his testimony — and his spies and assassination plots claims — will have changed people’s view of him; that is pretty much baked by now.
However, it is entirely possible that it has intensified feelings on Zuma, both positive and negative — we live in intense times. Those against him are now probably even more against him than they were and those who support him will continue to, just with more fervour. This could have a longer impact of rendering ANC’s internal divisions almost impossible to heal.
Those of a cynical disposition may believe this was the real intention all along. And that in raising these claims against the commission, he is both having his cake and eating it.
As we have said before, his supporters will hang on his every word, lashing out blindly at ‘the media’ and ‘Rupert’ and ‘white monopoly capital’, and the rest of us will just shake our heads and wonder how it ever came to this.
Hey, at least there’s no Zondo Commission today, so you won’t have to hear about all these shenanigans for the day.
Happy fake Friday.
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