State capture: Zuma abandons part of his court application at the 11th-hour

2017-10-25 21:31
President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

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Pretoria – At the 11th hour, President Jacob Zuma abandoned a crucial part of his state capture court review which asks for the State of Capture report to be sent back to the public protector for further investigation.

However, the main part of the case in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria - to have former public protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial actions reviewed and set aside - still stands.

In a surprising twist in the matter, which was set down for three days, Zuma's advocate Ishmael Semenya SC abandoned a part of the Notice of Motion which relates to the remission of the matter back to the office of the public protector for further investigation.

ALSO READ: Public Protector does not have powers to dictate to Zuma, court hears

In the court papers, the relief which was abandoned – which caught the attention of seasoned legal minds, including the full Bench of judges, reads: "Remitting the matter to the second respondent for further investigation."

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and High Court Judges Phillip Boruchowitz and Wendy Hughes had to adjourn immediately to discuss the implications which the move had on the application before them.

But not before Steven Budlender, who represents the Democratic Alliance seized the opportunity to request a dismissal of the entire application.

“We have an abandonment in the last minute, literally the last second of my learned friends' address. This is a fundamental part of the relief…I submit that this demonstrates that the court should dismiss this application as a whole,” he said.

Budlender added the decision to abandon was regrettable.

'Cynical' of Zuma

Representing the United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People, Dali Mpofu, SC, said the decision "threw a spanner in the works”.

The lawyer representing the Economic Freedom Fighters, Tembeka Ncukaitobi, said he was concerned about Zuma's commitment to establish a judicial commission of inquiry.

Giving his order, Judge President Mlambo gave the respondents until 16:00 on Friday to respond to the legal implications of Zuma’s decision.

READ: Zuma's integrity under spotlight at state capture review application

Zuma's legal team was given until next Tuesday to submit arguments on what the move means for the review application.

Commenting on the development, the DA's James Selfe said it was cynical of Zuma to drop half of his application at the last minute.

"We regard this as the height of cynicism for the president, at the very last minute, to abandon half of his review application."

'South Africans need closure'

Selfe said the move was reminiscent of what had happened with the Nkandla saga, "where exactly the same tactics were used".

"The president ran out of arguments and withdrew at the last minute and we believe that this is cynical beyond description. We hope that the court will take notice that this has wasted our time…and frustrated South Africans.

"It's now been over a year since the public protector released her report and South Africans now need closure on the matter."

Selfe said South Africans couldn't wait for a commission of inquiry to be established that would get to "the bottom of this shameful history of South Africa and hold those responsible accountable".

Read more on:    cope  |  da  |  udm  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  state capture

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