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JOHANNESBURG - The North Gauteng High Court decided on Wednesday that President Zuma should personally pay for his aborted legal bid to block the release of the State of Capture report.
Later in the morning, it will decide whether he will control how an inquiry into state capture is instituted.
Democratic Alliance leader @MmusiMaimane in attendance at the North Gauteng High Court for the judgment on the #StateCapture matter. J Mlambo continues to outline events which led to this moment on the #StateOfCapture report. pic.twitter.com/GFCyWyY90s— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
President Jacob Zuma abandoned his bid to interdict the release of the Public Protector’s State of Capture report on the second day of the multimillion-rand court battle, prompting opposition parties to demand Zuma foot the bill for the case himself.
“We are putting a very strong argument that Zuma must pay the costs personally…once the costs are from Zuma’s pocket, then all ministers are going to learn to take advice, all ministers are going to learn not to take hasty decisions out of anger, and out of emotions,” said EFF Leader Julius Malema.
Fast forward a year, and the North Gauteng High Court will finally rule whether Zuma should personally pay the millions spent on his abandoned state capture interdict.
Just 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.
In the decision on costs, Justice Mlambo began with a detailed summary of the numerous arguments and delays leading up to this case.
J Mlambo now outlines President Zuma's response that there was a typing error which accounts for the misunderstanding of his public response to #StateOfCapture consequences in the North Gauteng High Court ruling on #StateCapture application. pic.twitter.com/oki8Ro67pg— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
Mlambo also discussed whether the president had acted as a reasonable litigant in these matters, or had used court processes in an attempt to delay matters.
J Mlambo: if Pres Zuma was unclear on the status of #StateOfCapture, why did his lawyers not seek clarity from the #PublicProtector? Everyone in court on 14 October 2016 were aware of Fourie affidavit, says Mlambo. #StateCapture ruling. pic.twitter.com/acBgOSSsOW— AC Fick (@acfick72) December 13, 2017
On the president's contention that there was a typing error, Mlambo suggested that President Zuma's subsequent statements nullified that claim. 'The only reason for a typing error is that this was an attempt to buttress his attempt for amended relief. But that route is also doomed.'
Mlambo said the president's actions amounted to an abuse of the judicial process. He said the presdident clearly acted in fragrant disregard of the constitutional duties of the public protector.
He noted that the president did nothing when informed by the public protector that there were complaints about his action.
At a time when tensions between certain ANC factions and the court are at an all-time high, these rulings are certain to have profound implications.