Judge President Dunstan Mlambo says none of the grounds of review of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report have any merit and President Jacob Zuma is not entitled to the review he seeks.
Zuma had applied to the High Court for the State of Capture report to be reviewed and set aside.
Mlambo says the president was ill-advised and reckless to launch this review, adding that his court challenges had delayed resolution of state capture allegations.
Earlier on Wednesday found that the Public Protector does have the power to instruct the president to exercise executive authority.
This means the remedial action instructing Zuma to appoint a state capture commission of enquiry – led by a judge appointed by the chief justice – was lawful.
The court further held that the Public Protector’s powers are wide.
It also ruled that Zuma will have to foot the legal bill for trying to halt the state capture report.
Zuma has been dealt a second legal blow with the High Court dismissing his application to set aside the public protector’s state of capture remedial action.
The president has also been ordered to establish a commission of enquiry led by a judge chosen by the chief justice within 30 days.
The full bench in Pretoria rejected every ground of Zuma’s argument for review.
He was also ordered to personally pick up the costs of this application as he was ordered to pay the costs of an earlier application which was dismissed on Wednesday.
In the nearly two-hour judgment, Mlambo rejected each and every one of President Zuma’s grounds of review.
“None of the grounds of review has any merits and the president is not entitled to the relief that he seeks. The remedial action taken by the Public Protector is lawful, appropriate and reasonable and rational.”
He says Zuma’s statement to Parliament that he intended to establish a Commission of Enquiry undermined any basis to challenge the remedial action.
“The review application was a clear nonstarter and the president was seriously reckless in pursuing it as he has done. His conduct falls far short of the high standard expressed in Section 195 of the Constitution.”
The president has been ordered to establish the commission of enquiry, and fully support the judge appointed by the chief justice.
Rule of law upheld
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has given her first reaction to Wednesday’s judgment.
She says it upholds the rule of law and enforces accountability.
“The essence of this judgement is the rule of law… justice and as Judge President Mlambo said, it’s really about restating and reinforcing the rule of law.”
Madonsela was also asked about how the ANC should have responded to reports of state capture.
“I expected nothing from the governing party, given the fact that we govern through indirect democracy because of proportional representation. I believe that the governing party should’ve ensured that this matter is investigated.”
Victory of accountability
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has released a statement in response to Mlambo’s ruling.
The EFF welcomes the judgement of the North Gauteng High Court that Zuma must personally pay the legal costs in the case.
“We welcome this damning judgment as a victory of accountability because many public representatives use public resources to defend personal interests and not those of the state or the public.”
The EFF says Zuma is one individual who has used taxpayers’ money to defend personal wrongdoing.
He has engaged in expensive litigation not to defend public interest or even state interest, but a persona, the opposition party said.
“We call on Zuma to immediately comply with the directive of the court and personally pay all the costs of the litigation. He must waste no time and no single taxpayers’ cent to appeal a clear and cogent judgment.”
Read the whole State of Capture report here.
By Barry Bateman for EWN