Review of state capture remedial action will test public protector's powers

Review of state capture remedial action will test public protector's powers”

The case relates to claims that Zuma was influenced by the wealthy Gupta family to appoint and dismiss ministers in accordance with their interests or to secure lucrative government contracts.

Zuma took issue with the remedial action and applied to court to have it reviewed and set aside.

He argued that a commission of inquiry was the only effective way to investigate the allegations in a public and credible way and was the public protector's best attempt to cure the root cause of the complaints.

Ishmael Semenya told the court in Pretoria that former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had overstepped her powers in ordering the president to set up a commission of inquiry led by a judge appointed by the chief justice. It would give the chief justice five days to name a judge to head up the inquiry, after which Zuma would have 15 days to establish the commission.

Economic Freedom Fighters lawyer, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, told the court that "no one could be a judge in their own court", and thus it would be improper for Zuma to appoint a judge to oversee the inquiry.

"If he (Zuma) is acting in the public interest, he would not resist the involvement of the chief justice", Mpofu said.

"The President did not make pronouncements in front of his friends".

He said Madonsela was well within her rights to ask Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry.

Mpofu said Zuma has a duty to uphold, protect and defend the constitution and to assist the public protector to ensure there is no maladministration, and to ensure that matters like these are dealt with without delay.

Zuma should not use the courts to reverse his commitments on complying with statements he had been making in public, he said.

In Mkhwebane's heads of argument, she hit back, citing "an exceptional case" and said it was "impossible for him to do so [retain control over who is appointed] lawfully because he is implicated in the subject matter of the commission".

"The remedial action has made that choice for me as head of state, this is impermissible", he said.

Adv Dali Mpofu, for the UDM and Cope, argued the president was playing blatant gymnastics to avoid the simple matter of an investigation and to let the public know if there was criminality in the highest office in the country.

Mpofu agreed with Ngcukaitobi's submissions that Zuma "could not be the judge in his own case".

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