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More than 30! That's how many times Zuma failed to answer questions at state capture inquiry

22 July 2019 - 08:08 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former president Jacob Zuma at the state capture inquiry.
Former president Jacob Zuma at the state capture inquiry.
Image: Alon Skuy

How many times did former president Jacob Zuma respond to questions at the state capture inquiry with "I don't know", "I don't remember" or "I'm not sure"? We counted. During his testimony from Monday to Wednesday last week, he denied knowing the answers to 36 questions. 

Last week, the former president dominated news headlines when he appeared before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the commission in Johannesburg. He was expected to, among other things, respond to allegations levelled against him by nine witnesses, including former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan and former GCIS CEO Themba Maseko. 

He quickly earned himself the name "president in absentia" for not being able to answer questions put to him by evidence leader Paul Pretorius and Judge Zondo.

Jacob Zuma spent his second day before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the commission of inquiry into state capture on July 16 2019. Zuma answered some questions well, while other answers were questionable.

Zuma's testimony was cut short after he and his lawyers accused the commission's legal team of cross-examining him. On Friday, Zuma said he would withdraw from the commission. Later, however, he did a u-turn and said he would return at a later date, after reaching an agreement with the commission.

Among many other questions, Zuma was asked about the event which led to the redeployment of Maseko from GCIS to director general at the department of public services.

Maseko told the commission that this resulted because of his refusal to heed the requests of Ajay Gupta, which would have seen him benefit unduly from government. Zuma denied this, claiming there had been a "shifting of other executives" and Maseko was not the only one to be redeployed.

Zuma denied instructing late minister of public service and administration Collins Chabane to move Maseko. "The minister Chabane had said he wanted to transfer Maseko, but I can't remember the details."

Maseko alleged that Chabane, mandated by Zuma, redeployed him.