President Jacob Zuma File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA

Pretoria – President Jacob 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, leader of South Africa’s official opposition the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane made the comment after the Pretoria High Court 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.

Read: #StateCapture: Court rules Zuma must pay

“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 judgment, and we welcome it,” Maimane told reporters at the court. 

“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.”

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.

The court briefly adjourned after the ruling.

After the break, it was expected to pronounce on Zuma's attempt to overturn Madonsela's directive that the chief justice appoint the head of a commission of inquiry into state capture.

African News Agency/ANA