The second day of the state capture report hearings in the North Gauteng High Court brought more interesting developments. President Jacob Zuma withdrew his application to interdict the report, and the court ordered the Public Protector, whose report it is, to publish the document immediately.
The hearings are focusing on various applications to interdict the Public Protector’s report on state capture. President Jacob Zuma, co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen and mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane all brought applications to prevent the release of the report. Van Rooyen’s application was struck down yesterday, with costs.
The High Court yesterday also ruled in favour of various parties – the DA, EFF, Cope and UDM – and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, as they had applied to join the case in opposition of opposing the president’s application.
Today the court continued to hear arguments. The first order of business was the announcement from Zuma’s lawyer Anthea Platt that he was withdrawing his application to prevent the publication of the report. Advocates asked the court to order the release of the report forthwith and to determine whether Zuma should be held personally liable for costs as, they argued, he was protecting his personal interests.
The proceedings then turned to the issue of costs. Advocate Etienne Labuschagne for the DA asked that the president be ordered to pay his own costs, as did the EFF’s advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who said: “The time has come for the second respondent to accept responsibility for the multiplicity of cases that he has been involved in for the past decade.”
Ntsebeza said there is no basis in law for the taxpayer to fund this application, especially as the president has all along been acting in his personal capacity and serving his own interests. “The number one citizen of this country has been involved in a manifest abuse of this process.”
He added that the president and his lawyers had not applied their minds in submitting the application. “In aid of what are all these manoeuvres? Why are they wasting the court’s time? It was a stillborn application.”
Advocate Dali Mpofu, national EFF chairperson, also said that Zuma was acting in his personal financial interests. He deplored Zuma’s use of state attorneys, saying that he should have used private attorneys, as Van Rooyen did. He also had harsh words for Zuma’s “abuse of the court”.
“All the parties here sent a letter to the president alluding to the comment in his affidavit that if the report was final, it should be released,” said Mpofu, referring to Zuma’s further assertion that he could turn to the court for a review of the report, if necessary.
“In the light of that, we asked him to stop the application. This was on 24 October. We received no response – only six days later, we received what amounts to the greatest insult to this court and the collective intelligence of the South African people. In his amendment to his affidavit the president said it was a typing error, and he meant to say that the report should not be published.”
This was perjury, said Mpofu. “It’s impossible that it was a typing error because it would have been noticed and raised sooner. They forgot that there are other paragraphs in the same affidavit that they did not correct.”
After a lunch break the court handed down a unanimous order that the Public Protector must publish the report forthwith, and by no later than 17h00 this afternoon. The bench reserved its judgment on the matter of Zuma’s personal liability, saying that he has seven days to submit argument as to why he shouldn’t pay the costs of the case out of his own pocket.