PRETORIA - Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, who attended the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday, said that he thought that President Zuma should be charged with perjury.
This was after a damning judgment by the court that found the president to be an unreasonable litigant.
Delivering a unanimous judgment on behalf of a full bench of high court judges, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said the stance adopted by Zuma in 2016 on the status of the report was “completely unreasonable”.
Mlambo said there was no basis for Zuma’s application to interdict the release of the report.
“The president’s persistence to continue with the application [for an interdict against the public protector] amounts to abuse of judicial process,” said Mlambo.
Mlambo held that Zuma must personally pay the costs of his bid to block the release of then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture in 2016.
The court also noted during his judgment that whether President Zuma perjured himself was not what the North Gauteng High Court was concerned with, but the state capture report could only have been reviewed if it was seen as finalised, thus implying that the president may have commited perjury.
The judgment presented the first time in South Africa's history that either a minister or a president had been held liable in their personal capacity for the costs of a court case.
The DA said it welcomed the judgment.
Maimane said "We have a president who simply tries to avoid the rule of law." He asked, "How do we elect presidents that enforce that the president is indepentent of the process of appointing judges."
He said that President Zuma has sought to abuse the legal system to save his own skin and must now pay for his attempts to use taxpayers’ money to defend the indefensible in court.
“The court has said the president is an irrational litigant. I call him a delinquent litigant – somebody who has no legal basis but acting in self-preservation as one is a criminal. It can only be described in that way. I think the courts today have put their foot down, saying Jacob Zuma must be personally liable, not the taxpayer. It is the right judgement, and we welcome it,” Maimane said.
“Ultimately JZ must stop delaying South Africans, he must pay personally and that report on state capture, the courts will ensure that in the second half of this court [session], a judicial commission of inquiry is instituted.
Maimane pointed out that in order to maintain judicial independence, Parliament must in future appoint members of the the judiciary, rather than the president.
eNCA political commentator Angelo Fick said the president was being asked to respect the judgment.
- additional reporting ANA