Opposition parties fight Zuma’s bid to gag Madonsela

African News Agency (ANA)

Opposition parties fight Zuma’s bid to gag Madonsela
Jacob Zuma. Photo Mike Hutchings / Reuters

Opposition political parties fiercely countered the bid by President Jacob Zuma and two Cabinet ministers to interdict the release of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s “state capture” report in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, representing the Economic Freedom Fighters, said to start with, there was no urgency on the application by Zuma, who has now been joined by Co-operative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

“This court retains a discretion to refuse an application where the urgency is self created. The court can say we’ve heard you but you have created your own of urgency and therefore refuse to enrol the matter as one with urgency,” Ngcukaitobi told a full bench of three High Court judges.

“I want to start by saying what we are dealing with here is a classic case of self-created sense of urgency. As early as October 12, Mr Van Rooyen knew — because the Public Protector sent him questions asking him about the frequent visits to the Gupta family. He responded to those questions.”

Ngcukaitobi was countering Van Rooyen’s assertions that he had not been given sufficient time to respond to questions by Madonsela.

“The question of the frequency of his (Van Rooyen) visits was always part of the Public Protector’s concerns as early as the 12th of October. The self-created sense of urgency is the very reason that drove Mr Van Rooyen to come to this court on October 14. He believed something negative was going to be said about him. What has now changed? It’s the same story,” said Ngcukaitobi.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the United Democratic Movement and Congress of the People said the basis of seeking an urgent relief, the interdict, by Zuma, Van Rooyen and Zwane were unfounded.

“The grounds of urgency are fallacious and non-existent. This is merely a move to try and get a postponement that is being sought through the back door. There is no urgency whatsoever. There are no grounds,” said Mpofu.

Earlier, the court heard that the opposition political parties and any other individual do not have a legal standing to intervene in the court matter in which Zuma and the ministers seeks to stop the release of the “state capture” report.

Advocate Anthea Platt, representing Zuma, said the findings contained in the contentious report do not affect the parties seeking to intervene on the court case.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), EFF, UDM, Congress of the People (Cope) and former African National Congress (ANC) member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor are opposing Zuma’s application to interdict the report.

Platt told the court that correct procedure, Zuma questioning the witnesses, had not been followed in Madonsela’s probe and subsequently the report should not be released. Madonsela finalised the “state capture” report before her tenure as Public Protector ended last month.

The report looked at allegations that the wealthy Gupta family had undue influence in the appointment of ministers – a function that is the sole prerogative of the President.

Zuma, who has strong ties to the wealthy Gupta family, applied for an interdict to halt the release of the report, three days after he demanded an undertaking from Madonsela that she would not wrap up her investigation until he had been allowed to question witnesses in the investigation.

Zuma complained that he was not given enough time to respond.

Judges Dawie Fourie, Dunstan Mlambo and Phineas Mojapelo are presiding. The matter continues.

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SOURCEAfrican News Agency (ANA)