Court cheers at Zuma’s judgment
Judges ruled that Zuma was 'ill advised and reckless' in launching applications to stop the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report
There were loud cheers in the High Court in Pretoria when Jacob Zuma was ordered to personally pay the costs of his abortive State of Capture report applications and that a commission of inquiry must be appointed within 30 days – but the powers to make the appointment were removed from the president by the presiding judge.
In an historic ruling, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo and Judge Danie Fourie ruled that Zuma was “ill advised and reckless” in launching applications to stop the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report and to overturn the remedial action – and that the public should not be made to foot the large legal bill.
The judges found that the president was protecting his individual rights when he tried to stop the release of the report in October last year and acted unreasonably by launching a review application when the remedial action of the public protector presented him with an opportunity to confront and address the problem of alleged state capture.
They maintained there was prima facie evidence that the relationship between the president and the Gupta family had evolved into state capture and that the matter was of great public concern.
Mlambo said the president had a clear interest in the outcome of the commission and should recuse himself.
Madonsela had foreseen that the credibility of the process could be compromised and it was not only appropriate but necessary that someone other than the president selected the head of the commission.
They gave the president 30 days to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture, with Madonsela’s report as a starting point, with a presiding judge solely selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Mlambo said the president was aware that after the public protector’s report, more allegations of state capture emerged and the matter remained in the public domain and required decisive action and resolution.
His court challenge resulted in further delaying the resolution of the state capture allegations. “… The public protector’s report has uncovered worrying levels of malfeasance and corruption in the form of utter disregard of good corporate governance principles, some bordering on fraud, in government departments and state-owned enterprises. “This invariably involves very large amounts of taxpayer funds and use of state resources. “… In our view, the president had no justifiable basis to simply ignore the impact of this corruption on the South African public.
“His conduct also falls far short of the expectation on him as head of state to support institutions of democracy such as the public protector,” he said.