#StateCapture war: Now it’s 5 against 1
Pretoria - Opposition parties, buoyed by victory in their first legal bid to have the so-called state capture report made public, are hoping to pin down President Jacob Zuma in court on Wednesday.
The first salvo was fired when Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen had his new application struck from the roll due to a lack of urgency.
And members of political parties and civil society organisations converge in Pretoria on Tuesday where Zuma's bid to interdict the release of the report is being heard.
The high court in Pretoria on Tuesday gave the possible publication of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report a boost when three judges ruled that four opposition parties as well as former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor could enter the fight for its release to the public.
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, who is leading the three-judge bench, ordered that the DA, EFF, Cope, the UDM and Mentor could enter the fray against the bid to keep the report under wraps.
The report deals with complaints of improper and unethical conduct by the president and officials of state organs due to their alleged inappropriate relationship with members of the Gupta family.
Van Rooyen, Zuma and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane had all made urgent applications against the release of the report.
This prompted the political parties, as well as Mentor, to file applications asking for the immediate release of the report. The fact that the intervening parties are all calling for its immediate publishing could seriously affect Zuma’s case. It’s now him against five others who want the report to see the light of day.
Zuma, meanwhile, is no longer asking that the public protector be interdicted from releasing the report.
In an amended notice of motion handed to court over the weekend, the president is going for the jugular - he is now asking that the report be declared unlawful and that it be set aside.
He wants the court to order that the public protector can finalise the investigations into the state capture report only after he has had time to pose questions to the witnesses Madonsela consulted before she brought out her final report.
Zuma also first wants to answer certain questions posed to him earlier by Madonsela regarding the report, to which he said he had not had time to respond.
Zuma, in his latest bid, said he wants the new public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to provide him with all the evidence which is adverse to him, so that he can effectively exercise his rights in responding to it.
Etienne Labuschagne, appearing for the DA, after the court had allowed the intervening parties into the fray, asked that the court immediately rule that the report be released.
Labuschagne said Zuma wanted a declaratory order that the report be declared unlawful until he had provided his input. This, he argued, the president can do in his own time during a review application and not on an urgent basis.
But counsel for the EFF said Zuma should be afforded the opportunity to argue his case on Wednesday.
Zuma’s counsel, meanwhile, withdrew an application to have his application postponed. The counsel said he would pay the legal costs in this regard of the other parties.