Zuma Vs DA Court Battle – South Africa’s embattled President says former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action directing him to establish a commission of inquiry into state capture allegations is in breach of separation of powers.
Opposing an application filed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday, President Zuma’s lawyers insisted that Madonsela’s directive is “unconstitutional”.
The president also argued that the president is the only one who can establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the allegations and not otherwise, as stipulated by the Public Protector.
“The remedial action instructs the president (a member of the executive) to appoint a commission of inquiry. The remedial action to that extent‚ offends against the separation of powers doctrine which is part of the rule of law‚” Zuma’s lawyer, Ishmael Semenya SC argued on behalf of the president.
In her remedial action, Madonsela had recommended that a commission of inquiry into the allegations of state capture should be set up and that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should appoint the sole judge to preside over the commission.
But President Zuma disagreed with this, arguing that Madonsela’s recommendation is unconstitutional because the president is the only one who can establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the allegations.
To him, the former Public Protector overreached her powers, by ordering him to establish a commission without applying his discretion in doing so.
Zuma, therefore, asked the court not to give its backing to the remedial action because it is not an appropriate remedy to address the complaints in the state capture report.
“The Public Protector has not made any finding on maladministration. You cannot exercise the power the Constitution says you have if you have not made any findings‚” Semenya argued further.
Speaking on behalf of the DA, advocate Anton Katz, argued that by simply ignoring the remedial action, Zuma has harmed the dignity of the Public Protector’s office and has rendered it ineffectual.
The DA had roped the President to High Court in Pretoria after he tried to oppose Madonsela’s remedial action and directives on state capture by calling for a review.
The party via its legal team wants the court to order that Zuma breached the Constitution and also order him to setup a state capture judicial commission of inquiry.
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that both parties will likely to turn to the Constitutional Court should the high court ruling go against them.
The case continues.