Advocate Dali Mpofu for the United Democratic Movement and Congress of the People on Wednesday presented a draft order to the North Gauteng High Court that requires President Jacob Zuma to set up a commission or inquiry into “state capture” within 15 days.
Setting up a commission of inquiry was part of the remedial action recommended by the previous public protector, Thuli Madonsela, in her “state of capture” report, which Zuma is challenging.
The president says the recommended remedial action infringes on his executive powers and that the public protector did not make any findings against him.
“The country is burning and there is no time to seek legal opinions,” Mpofu said on the second day of that Zuma’s application to review remedial action is being heard.
Mpofu said the public protector “is to deliver this order to the Chief Justice no later than five days”.
However, Judge Dunstan Mlambo questioned whether it was reasonable to give the chief justice only five days to appoint a judge to oversee the commission of inquiry into state capture.
Mpofu responded saying the matter was not new and should have in fact been been dealt with last year.
“This whole thing has nothing to do with the presidency, these gymnastic delaying tactics are to protect his own skin.”
Mpofu argued that the president was given ample time to respond to allegations levelled against him and his associates, the Guptas, but never made efforts to respond.
“The public protector did not receive a response from the president when he was invited to respond to the allegations.”
Mpofu said Zuma’s failure to rebut allegations, makes the prima facie evidence to be higher than the allegations. He said the president must pay the costs of the application in his personal capacity, including costs occasioned by the employment of two counsels. “Why must Guptas steal tax payers money with the help of Zuma and then they still have to pay for his legal fees?”
On Tuesday, Judge Mlambo took Zuma’s legal representative Ishmail Semenya through a time line leading to the release of the “state of capture” report. He indicated how the president failed to take any action.
“The president received a letter from the public protector in April 2016 about serious allegations about him, he does nothing,” the judge said.
“In August the public protector tells the president that he is going to issue a report, he tries to stop it.”
“Is this what one can expect from a reasonable president in the context of the constitution?
“He holds the view that no one can tell him how to act, then why did he not act? ” asked Mlambo
Semenya told the court that the president was “legally incapable of doing anything” in regard to the report.
Last year, Madonsela recommended that a commission of inquiry be established by Zuma but that the judge should be chosen by the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The matter continues.