Former president Jacob Zuma has been denied leave to appeal a court ruling that ordered him to personally pay the court costs. Picture: Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - Former president Jacob Zuma has on Friday, been denied leave to appeal a court ruling that ordered him to personally pay the court costs of his failed legal review of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's directive that a judicial commission of inquiry be appointed to probe the state capture scandal.

"It means that the cost order stands," said James Selfe from the Democratic Alliance, one his opponents in the case.

The ruling was made by the High Court in Pretoria on Friday and communicated to the parties.

Zuma had sought to take on review Madonsela's remedial action on the basis that, according to the Constitution, only the president had the discretion to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry and that he could not be directed by another organ of state as to how to exercise his power.

Madonsela had further instructed that not the president, but the chief justice appoint the judge who was to head the commission.

The court in December last year, dismissed his review application, finding that none of his arguments had merit and ruled that a commission of inquiry had to be appointed within 30 days. It had to be headed, as per Madonsela's directive, by a chairman appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

The court also ruled that the then president be held personally liable for the cost of the application as well as an earlier aborted attempted to stop the release of Madonsela's report on the abuse of state funds to benefit politically connected individuals.

The court held on Friday that an appeal against the costs order had "no reasonable prospect of success" and that it was not in the interest of justice that Zuma be allowed to proceed.

It said the parties to the case and the general public deserved "much-needed finality in this matter".

The judges dealt extensively with Zuma's delay in launching the application for leave to appeal only on June 8. He applied in his personal capacity, after President Cyril Ramaphosa had in April 2018 withdrawn an earlier application for leave to appeal lodged by the presidency while Zuma was still in power.

It allowed Zuma's personal intervention because the punitive cost order affected him directly but held that the reasons he advanced for the delay, including that he was "consumed with the political events" leading to his resignation in February, were general and superficial and did not offer a true and exact explanation.

It concluded that it appeared that Zuma had deliberately done nothing until he was assured that the state would fund his application for leave to appeal.

Friday's ruling means that Zuma will have to pay the legal costs of the DA, the office of the Public Protector, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the United Democratic Movement, the Congress of the People, former African National Congress member of Parliament (MP) Vytjie Mentor and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).

The EFF welcomed the court's decision and said the bench had acted to protect the interests of South Africans.

"For far too long the public purse has not only been looted, but has also been used by the catalysts of corruption in their pursuit of evading justice."

African News Agency (ANA)