In The News South Africa

Courts to hear two key cases pitting Zuma v Democratic Alliance this week

CAPE TOWN, September 11 – The Pretoria High Court will on Tuesday and Wednesday hear President Jacob Zuma’s challenge to former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture, while later in the week the latest round in the spy tapes court battle will play out in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Zuma has taken Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report, which shed light notably on Eskom’s dealings with the Gupta family, on review because he differs with her directive that a commission of inquiry, headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, be appointed to further probe the funnelling of state resources to politically connected businessmen.

Madonsela gave Zuma 30 days to appoint the commission of inquiry, and the Democratic Alliance (DA) has gone to court to force him to implement the remedial action.

But the president argues that the Constitution gives him alone the right to appoint the head of a judicial commission of inquiry.

Madonsela, in a firm nod to the conflict of interest that arises due to the president and his family’s ties to the Gupta family, acknowledged the president’s powers in this regard but went on to quote his protest in court in the Nkandla case that he could not “be accused of being judge and jury in my own case”.

Therefore, Mogoeng had to appoint the head of the inquiry, she said.

Madonsela released recordings of their interviews to prove that Zuma refused to comply with her investigation into state capture. Yet the president and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa have repeatedly replied to questions about state capture by saying the president intended to appoint a commission of inquiry.

In June, however, Zuma responded to the DA’s court application with a counter application for a stay on implementing Madonsela’s report pending the outcome of the review, if necessary.

It would not cause any prejudice as the review application itself would be heard in a few months, he said in court papers.

In his arguments for a review, he states that he was not compelled to comply with a report of the Public Protector if he had cause to doubt its correctness.

“To do so will amount to a mechanical response; this is irreconcilable with the logic and rights exercisable by a person adversely affected by such a determination,” he said.

On Thursday and Friday, the Supreme Court of Appeal will hear Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority’s appeal to the North Gauteng High Court’s April 2016 ruling that the 783 outstanding charges against him for alleged corruption must be reinstated.

The court has agreed to simultaneously hear the president and the NPA’s arguments, a fact welcomed by the DA’s James Selfe as helping to ensure “that not a single day further is wasted before the SCA can make a final judgement on this matter”.

The DA has now been in court for eight years trying to overturn the decision by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop the graft charges stemming from the 1999 arms deal. It came shortly before national elections and helped to smooth Zuma’s path to the presidency.

The North Gauteng High Court held that Zuma “should face the charges as outlined in the indictment”.

That ruling made real the threat of prosecution that has dogged Zuma’s two terms in office and become a critical factor in the internal battles in the African National Congress to anoint his successor.

But Selfe acknowledged that the appeal to be heard at the end of the week will not be the end of the long-running case. Should Zuma and the NPA lose, which he predicted they would, they could seek to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Selfe said this was Zuma’s last legal resort, and if the president were to choose to use it as a delaying tactic, it would buy him “months rather than years” as the highest court has a relatively short turnaround time.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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