News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
12 Sep 2017
12:44 pm

Zuma: Mandonsela overreached her powers on state capture inquiry recommendation

Ilse de Lange

In court papers, the president argues he did not act in bad faith by not seeking an interim order to stay the remedial action in the State of Capture report.

President Jacob Zuma.(Photo: GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma is of the view that former public protector Thuli Mandonsela overreached her powers when she ordered him to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture, and he says he does not have to comply because he has taken her report on review.

But just in case, the president filed a counter-application in the High Court in Pretoria to stay the remedial action ordered by Madonsela pending the outcome of his review, which is due to be heard next month.

He said in court papers he had not acted in bad faith by not seeking an interim order to stay the remedial action, but had acted on legal advice.

Madonsela in November last year gave the president a month to appoint a commission headed by a judge solely appointed by chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because President Zuma was himself implicated in state capture.

The Democratic Alliance has applied for a court order in the High Court in Pretoria declaring that the president had failed in his constitutional duties by not complying with the public protector’s remedial action.

The DA also wants the court to order the president to comply with the public protector’s remedial action, but the president said that would render his review application academic and was not in the interest of justice.

Counsel for the DA, Anton Katz SC, argued the president was clearly in violation of his constitutional duties, as he was under a legal obligation to comply with the public protector’s remedial action and only applied for a stay in June this year, whereas he could have done so within the 30-day cut-off period.

He argued the president should have been aware of court judgments making it clear the public protector’s remedial action was binding.

The DA relied heavily on the Constitutional Court ruling that the president had to pay back some of the millions spent on refurbishing his home at Nkandla in compliance with the public protector’s Nkandla report.

Katz said the president had said in parliament that he supported a commission of inquiry into state capture and was about to appoint one, which raised the question why President Zuma opposed the application and asked for a stay.

He said it was clear that the president’s difficulty with the public protector’s remedial action was who appointed the presiding judge.

The president maintained only he had the power to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry.

Katz argued it could take years before the president’s review application is finalised, yet he wanted to stay the remedial action for years merely on the hope that his review would eventually succeed.

He argued the president had not met the requirements for an order to stay the remedial action and it should be dismissed.

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