Why has Zondo been so slow to meet Zuma's doctors?

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Business Day legal writer Karyn Maughan outlines why Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo may be "thinking twice" about the invitation to a confidential meeting with former President Jacob Zuma's doctors.

The legal team for Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture remains intent on forcing former President Jacob Zuma to appear before it through the use of a subpoena and “will proceed with its application for such a summons”, says legal writer Karyn Maughan. That means Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is going to be forced ‘to make a call on whether he actually takes up Zuma’s offer for a confidential meeting with his doctors.’

In her analysis in Business Day, Maughan says if he does not take up the offer, Zondo will “undoubtedly” face accusations that he has not honoured his public commitment to seek clarity from the former President’s doctors about his medical condition.

Furthermore, given Zuma’s “manifest reluctance” to provide any further information about his health – on the basis that it is a matter of national security – it is unlikely that he will agree to any further disclosures.

Maughan believes that is why Zondo may be thinking twice about meeting SA Military Health Services Dr Zakes Motene, or any other members of Zuma’s medical team. She points out that Zuma believes that his latest bout of ill-health was caused by poisoning. If this diagnosis is disclosed to Zondo – as a legal rather than a medical professional – he may not be in a position to question it.

“Further, Zondo would not be able to release any information about what he was told, meaning that whether he is convinced by his consultation with Zuma’s doctors or not, Zondo cannot disclose the reasons for his rejection or acceptance of the information they give him.”

While Zondo has not taken a decision whether to hold such a meeting, his spokesperson has confirmed that the commission still intends to have Zuma appear before it ‘in due course’. Says Maughan: “It’s no wonder Zondo is considering his options in this minefield – and perhaps hoping that the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) will give him a map to get out of it.”

Full Business Day analysis

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