AfriForum's attempt to grill Ramaphosa ruled offside

State capture inquiry chairperson refuses application for leave to cross-examine because granting it would 'open the flood gates'

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo refused an application from AfriForum to cross-examine President Cyril Ramaphosa (R).
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo refused an application from AfriForum to cross-examine President Cyril Ramaphosa (R).
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

AfriForum's desperate attempt to cross-examine ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was ruled offside by state capture commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, on Tuesday.

The pressure group sought to grill Ramaphosa on his party's so-called “cadre deployment” policy.

But Zondo was not convinced that AfriForum met the legal requirement to qualify to cross-examine a person who had not implicated them.

According to the commission rules, only people or organisations that have been implicated have the right to apply for leave to cross-examine witnesses who implicate them. In this respect, said Zondo, Ramaphosa had not even mentioned AfriForum.

Granting the organisation the opportunity to grill the president would lead to an open season of everyone applying to cross-examine whichever witness they deemed a target.

AfriForum's legal counsel, Mia du Plessis, tried in vain to convince Zondo otherwise, arguing that the organisation was representing 280,000 of its members and other supporters who were directly affected by ANC cadre deployment.

Zondo was still not sold, saying there was nothing special about AfriForum to deserve to be granted leave to appeal when it was clearly outside the commission's rules.

“I have read the papers in this matter. The first difficulty I have with it is that for a person to apply for leave to cross-examine, that person must be implicated by that witness. I do not remember seeing AfriForum's papers where they say President Ramaphosa is going to implicate them,” said Zondo.

“If this is correct, how does AfriForum, out of everybody in South Africa, qualify to apply for leave to cross examine?

“The rules say you have to be an implicated person. If you are not, it means you fall outside the category of persons who may apply and that to me is for a good reason,” Zondo went on.

“If it were otherwise, then anybody and any organisation in the country that feels we would like to cross-examine so and so they can apply. It is opening of flood gates [if AfriForum application is granted]," he added.

With that, Zondo “refused” AfriForum's leave for application to cross-examine Ramaphosa.