Zuma could lay charge against Madonsela over report

2016-10-23 06:00
President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

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Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela could end up being the target of a criminal case levelled against her by President Jacob Zuma.

This is according to a lawyer who has told City Press that Zuma’s response to the DA’s application to intervene against the release of the state capture report “includes a less-than-subtle threat to Madonsela”.

In court documents filed on Friday, Zuma fires a warning shot that makes his intentions clear.

“Should it now transpire that she finalised and signed the report, her conduct may well amount to constructive contempt. In this regard, I reserve my rights.”

Zuma refers to a letter in which Madonsela reassured him that she had not concluded her investigation and had made no adverse findings.

In the letter, according to Zuma’s submission, Madonsela undertook that her office would comply with its duties and abide by all relevant laws in conducting the investigation and submitting the report.

Zuma uses this to strong-arm Madonsela.

“Reference to ‘all other relevant laws’, as I understand it, are the laws giving effect to my right to just administrative action,” charges Zuma in his submission to court.

The much-anticipated report was meant to be released on the last day of Madonsela’s office – October 14 2016 – but the release was halted by the president at the eleventh hour.

Zuma argues that he has not been afforded enough time to respond to allegations levelled against him in what is believed to be a damming report for him and contentious friends, the prominent Gupta family.

Zuma labours on the matter of not having clarity on whether or not the report was finalised before he had been given a chance to respond.

He points to contradictions in submissions that had been made by Madonsela on whether the report was final or not.

In one paragraph, the head of legal services states that the Public Protector’s office was in the process of completing her report relating to the relationship between the Gupta family and the president.

In another, it says that the Public Protector “has already finalised and signed the report”.

Zuma is also unsettled that Madonsela has notified the public and the courts that her report is finalised when he, as a subject of the investigation, had not been notified.

“Should it later transpire that the Public Protector produced a final report without affording me my right to just administrative action, then in that event it should be released,” Zuma says in his response.

The lawyer, with intricate knowledge of the case, warned:

“They could lay criminal charges against her. They pick up on those two paragraphs that contradict each other.

"If it is found that she has finalised the report – which she has – then it is contempt on her part, because she finalised the report when she knew the application was pending.”

Zuma’s next move, should the court confirm that the report be released, will be to launch an appeal.

This would delay the release of the much-anticipated report yet again.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  thuli madonsela  |  politics  |  state capture report

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