Zuma Loses Bid To Have Judge In South African Graft Inquiry Step Down
JOHANNESBURG: South African Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo rejected on Thursday an application by former President Jacob Zuma for him to recuse himself from an inquiry into state corruption.
Zondo, the chairman of the inquiry, said Zuma had failed to make the case that he was biased.
Zuma was removed as president in 2018, a year before his second term was due to end. A number of witnesses at the commission of inquiry have implicated him in alleged wrongdoing during his nine years as head of state.
The former president has denied the allegations, and in a previous appearance at the inquiry said there was a conspiracy against him. His lawyers argued this week that Zondo was biased and said he should recuse himself.
Zondo dismissed the accusation, which Zuma’s lawyers said was based on Zondo’s comments over the course of the proceedings that began two years ago and are due to end in March. Zuma’s lawyers also alleged bias based on Zondo and Zuma being friends.
Zondo denied the friendship, saying: “There was not the kind of relationship between myself and the applicant (Zuma), such as would disqualify me from chairing this commission.”
“And the applicant cannot be allowed to raise this issue so late in the day,” he said.
In 2018, Zuma approved Zondo’s nomination to head up the inquiry.
Zondo said Zuma’s arguments did not meet the test for a “reasonable apprehension of bias”, which in law requires the reviewing judge to consider whether a reasonable person would have grounds to suspect impartiality.
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