Judge lambasts Zuma, orders him to pay costs of state capture report

South Africa High Court orders President Jacob Zuma to set up influence inquiry

In the ruling meted out earlier in the day, the full bench of the court gave Zuma 30 days to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into "state capture", to be headed by a judge appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Zuma is due to step down as leader of the ANC this weekend and as national president in 2019.

In October, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court decision reinstating almost 800 corruption charges relating to an arms deal that were filed against Zuma but shelved before he ran for president in 2009.

Zuma had tried to block the publication of the report arguing that he had not been granted enough opportunity to respond to the charges. Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied the accusations.

"There is the broader pattern of the president's conduct in litigation of defending what turns out, on the president's version, to have been the indefensible all along", said Judge President Dustan Mlambo.

"This is unprecedented but it also reflects the extent to which the courts might have taken a dim view of the president's abuse of legal process", Phephelaphi Dube, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said by phone.

On Friday, the same court ruled that Zuma's appointment of a state prosecutor was not valid and should be set aside immediately.

Madonsela made the recommendation in her report on investigations into whether Zuma's friends, the controversial Gupta family, had undue influence on the executive.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Zuma had used every trick to obfuscate the state-capture matter and that his party would oppose any bid to appeal the judgment.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said Zuma "clearly acted in flagrant disregard of the duties of the public protector" and described his actions as "completely unreasonable" and "grossly remiss".

"But in so doing he should think what it means for this country to be sitting with these allegations of state capture, a dysfunctional cabinet, a dysfunctional government and a dysfunctional ANC", said Thuli Madonsela, former Public Protector.

Her 355-page report, titled "State of Capture", stopped short of asserting that crimes had been committed, saying the watchdog lacked the resources to reach such conclusions and recommended that they be investigated by a judicial inquiry. Zuma is appealing that ruling.

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