JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has avoided committing to the eventual release of the state capture report, instead asserting his legal right, as a citizen, to have had it blocked.
Facing questions from members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), in Parliament, on Tuesday, Zuma defended the interdict stopping the release of the report as well as the reappointment of Dudu Myeni as SAA chair.
Asked how he had intervened -- to protect a ratings downgrade -- in the prosecution of Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Zuma said doing so would make South Africa little more than a "banana republic".
South Africa adhered to the rule of law, which meant no individual had a right interfere with independent processes and institutions.
“I think if this president was to interfere in any matter either of chapter nine institutions or other institutions then it would be close to a banana republic.”
Zuma said prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams had visited ANC headquarters the day before Gordhan was charged not to discuss the charges but as part of the security cluster meeting on a completely different matter.
The President nevertheless acknowledged the seriousness of the prosecution of the finance minister and repeated his support of Gordhan.
Zuma also acknowledged that ratings agencies and a possible downgrade in December were of concern.
But he explained that the Brics countries planned to form their own ratings agency because they believed the existing agencies did not operate in a "balanced way"treat countries equally. Developing countries, including China, with the second biggest economy in the world, were treated differently to countries in Europe, Zuma said.
After a lengthy exchange about the proposed move of Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria, a NCOP member asked if the university fee crisis could be solved first.
Zuma said he had established a fees commission and an inter-ministerial task team to deal with the demand for free higher education.
"We have not failed to respond. Education is an apex priority," he said. But students should not make demands and refuse to stop until these were met; in real life people had to negotiate, he added.
Asked outright whether Dudu Myeni had been kept on at the helm of SAA because she was a friend or for the good of the airline, Zuma said "in the interests of the company and nothing else".