Zuma using delaying tactics by launching bid for leave to appeal costs order‚ say opposition parties

File photo of former President Jacob Zuma sitting in the dock during his brief appearance at the Durban High Court.
File photo of former President Jacob Zuma sitting in the dock during his brief appearance at the Durban High Court.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyers are trying to convince the high court that he did not deserve the estimated R10-million personal costs order granted against him in his disastrous state capture cases.

But opposition parties have slammed Zuma’s bid for leave to appeal as nothing more than a legally flawed attempt to delay the consequences of his own “reckless” litigation.

And the EFF and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution are both arguing that Zuma must again face a personal costs order for bringing that appeal.

“The actions of Mr Zuma‚ in playing these games of coming in and out of court… delayed the appointment of this [state capture] commission‚” Advocate Dali Mpofu argued for Cope and the UDM.

“This commission was supposed to start in November 2016. It would be all over now. We would know today who took the billions and how… that is also the unreasonable actions of an unreasonable president.”

The Pretoria High Court has reserved judgment in the case‚ which must decide whether Zuma has reasonable prospects of success in appealing the costs order made against him.

The order was the first of its kind to be made against a South African head of state.

Zuma’s advocate‚ Muzi Sikhakhane‚ has argued that the former president was not “reckless” when he challenged former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report and insists those challenges were built on legitimate‚ not self-interested‚ grounds.

Sikhakhane says Zuma’s failed review of Madonsela’s report was built on his concern that her remedial action — which ordered that Chief Justice Mogoeng choose the judge to head the state capture inquiry‚ rather than the president – was unconstitutional.

“Let’s forget that we don’t like him‚ he’s implicated‚ we want him to go. He [Zuma] says‚ ‘I must do this commission‚ but I want to do it right. I want to do it in such a way that‚ after spending R200-million… I want to make sure that the commission is protected from any possible constitutional challenge about how I constituted it.’”

Advocate Thabani Masuku‚ who also represented Zuma‚ argued that the former president’s legal challenge was focused on a key legal point: should the judiciary have the power to appoint a judge to head a commission of inquiry?

But advocates for the EFF‚ DA‚ Cope and UDM are completely unconvinced by that argument.

DA advocate Steven Budlender argued that Zuma’s legal challenge was manifestly pursued “in bad faith” and was a clear abuse‚ designed to protect the interests of himself‚ his son‚ Duduzane‚ and his friends‚ the Gupta family‚ all of whom are implicated in state capture.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza‚ for the EFF‚ slammed Zuma for claiming that he was simply trying to ensure that the state capture inquiry was constitutional with his failed legal challenge.

Zuma’s claims to this effect‚ he said‚ needed to be weighed against his recent public comments that there was no such thing as state capture.

Mpofu has further argued that Zuma has “zero” prospects of success in appealing the costs order against him‚ and described his appeal bid as “limping”.

This‚ he said‚ was because Zuma himself had publicly stated in December last year that the need for a state capture inquiry to proceed was urgent.

In that statement‚ Zuma said that “the allegation that the state has been wrestled out of the hands of its real owners‚ the people of South Africa‚ is of paramount importance to me” and needed to be resolved.

“He knew what is the right thing to do and he should have done it.”

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