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JOHANNESBURG - President Zuma's application for an order reviewing and setting aside the Public Protector's State Capture Report and her finding that a judicial commission of inquiry be instituted into State Capture, under a judge nominated by the Chief Justice, was heard in the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.
The court will have to decide whether the president is able to retain control of how a commission of inquiry into state capture is instituted.
Then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela ordered that this control be taken away from Zuma, as he was deeply implicated in state capture himself – and therefore too conflicted.
In proceeding with his judgment, Justice Mlambo noted that the decision was unanimous.
#StateCaptureJudgment being delivered now. Mlambo will read out a summarized version of th judgment. It is unanimous.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 13, 2017
He began by summarising the history of allegations of state capture that had led to then public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report.
Mlambo tracking history of the #StateCapture allegations that led to @ThuliMadonsela3 investigation - sparked by reports of bribe offered to Mcebisi Jonas to take Finance Minister position, in exchange for furthering Gupta interests.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 13, 2017
Mlambo then outlined the investigation into President Zuma's alleged violation of the Executive Members Ethics Act in his relationship with the Guptas - essentially, whether he'd served the family's interests in his actions or decisions to favour the family, enrich himself, them.
J Mlambo quotes from #StateOfCapture the placement of Min van Rooyen in Saxonwold on 7 occasions including the day before he was appointed Finance Minister in December 2015 as he reads #StateCapture judgment in North Gauteng High Court. pic.twitter.com/rsIvHzsWjU— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
J Mlambo now outlines the dealings between Adv Madonsela as then #PublicProtector and President Zuma in 2016 before the compilation & release of #StateOfCapture in reading #StateCapture judgment in North Gauteng High Court. pic.twitter.com/wOOauyaEtw— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
J Mlambo now rehearses the #PublicProtector #StateOfCapture report material on the possible interference of cabinet ministers in the relationship between the banks and the Gupta family in #StateCapture judgment in North Gauteng High Court. pic.twitter.com/zWJbRQQJqW— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
Justice Mlambo pointed out that the public protector ws there to defend the country from corrupt actions.
He said that the executive powers granted the public protector were of the widest ambit and included the power to take appropriate action when remedial action was required.
Mlambo: key question is whether President's Constitutional power to appoint inquiry can be overridden by @PublicProtector remedial action.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 13, 2017
Court stresses that exercise of public power must be held up against constitution. #StateCapture
Last week, this same court – ruling that Zuma’s appointment of prosecutions head Shaun Abrahams was unlawful – had some scathing words about the president’s apparent legal strategy.
“There is the broader pattern of the president’s conduct in litigation of defending what turns out, on the president’s version, to have been the indefensible all along", said Judge President Dustan Mlambo.
Mlambo and his fellow judges removed Zuma’s constitutional power to appoint Abrahams’ replacement away from him on the basis that the looming prospect that he would face corruption charges had left him too conflicted to act.
That ruling was met with outrage from certain quarters of the ANC, with Minister Bathabile Dlamini suggesting the judges had been told what to write.
If this court finds that Zuma is too conflicted to control the terms of the state capture inquiry, this pushback may only intensify.