South Africa

'The former president appointed Zondo': SA pokes holes in Jacob Zuma's attempt to dodge inquiry

South Africans have been left with more questions than answers regarding the “beef” between deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo and former president Jacob Zuma.

Zondo on Thursday released a statement in which he revealed that he fathered a child with a sister of one of Zuma's wives, Thobeka Madiba, in the 1990s. He said to his knowledge, Madiba had not been in a relationship with the former president at the time.

Many have questioned the relevance of this information to the work of the inquiry and whether it is a conflict of interest. Others have questioned whether Zondo should have made this private matter public.

Before revealing the “historical personal family ties”, the deputy chief justice had been accused of bias against the former president, who has even gone as far as demanding that Zondo recuse himself as the chair of the inquiry.

In September, Zuma, through his lawyer Eric Mabuza, accused Zondo of wanting to subject him to public humiliation and paint him as a “liar” and “guilty at all costs”.

Mabuza said Zondo's “bias” against Zuma was a result of the two having “historical personal, family and professional relations that ought to have been publicly disclosed by the chairperson before accepting his appointment”.

Mabuza did not provide further details at the time.

Legal experts told Sunday Times Daily that Zondo's revelation could do very little for the former president.

“By law, you only have to recuse yourself if there is a reasonable fear you will be biased. The link is far removed. No judge in SA is ever going recuse himself because of this type of fact. I was surprised his lawyers raised it. It’s quite silly. I was actually amused,” said constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos.

Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary at the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution said Zuma should have disclosed the “family ties” when he appointed Zondo to the office of the deputy chief justice.

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