It has been a day of political and judicial high drama as former president Jacob Zuma point blankly refused to appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture.

After Zondo said that the commission would ask for Zuma’s arrest for defying a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) to appear at the inquiry, Zuma came out guns blazing in a statement on Monday evening.

Zuma slammed Zondo for spreading “political propaganda” against him as he awaits the ConCourt decision on if he is guilty of contempt of court or not.

In the statement, Zuma reiterated that he would not appear at the commission as Zondo was attempting to “turn all narratives against me into evidence”.

Earlier in the day, a letter from Zuma’s lawyers to the commission stated that their client will not be appearing before the commission as compiled by a ConCourt order in January.

ALSO READ: Jacob Zuma and the men in robes: When a good lawyer is worth his weight in gold

The letter, dated 15 February 2021, said Zuma would not appear as scheduled this week due to his application at the Pretoria High Court challenging Zondo’s decision in November 2020 not to recuse himself from hearing Zuma’s testimony.

Meanwhile, Zuma said he believes that the commission was “playing politics to influence public opinion”.

“In my absence, he and evidence leader Paul Pretorius SC decided on what they have always sought to do turn all narratives against me into evidence.

“In his long speech, Pretorius SC presented what Deputy Chief Justice Zondo literally called evidence against me. Realising that they had forfeited the opportunity to present the evidence to me, they did what has become their hallmark at the commission in making submissions to each other and playing politics to influence public opinion,” he said.

The former president explained that he decided not to appear before the commission in effort to vindicate the Constitution instead of undermining.

“I have already presented myself to the commission on two occasions when called upon to do so,” he said.

READ MORE: Zondo dismisses Zuma’s reasons for defying order to appear at commission

He continued to say that he stood by his reservation and that the commission was “conceptualised as part of the campaign and sponsored multi-sectoral collaboration to remove him from office”.

“The debate has tended to focus on me, with many suggesting that I regard myself as above the law or that I do not recognize our Constitution and our law.

“They know as well as I do, that is not the case. Some have argued that if I do not appear before the Zondo commission I must be jailed or stripped of presidential benefits or pension.

ALSO READ: Penalty or imprisonment: What awaits Zuma for ditching Zondo commission?

“Well, for the record, I am the one that suggested that I do not mind defending myself against the sanction that accompanies my principled stance. Secondly, it should naturally please them that, should I fail to defend myself before the relevant contempt forum, I will face jail term,” he added.

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