President Jacob Zuma lost round one yesterday when a court ruled that opposition political parties can now have a say in his “state capture” court battle.
The High Court in Pretoria found that the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement, Congress of the People, and former African National Congress parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor can now oppose Zuma’s bid to have the report gagged.
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo also announced that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen’s application to interdict the release of the report has been “struck off the roll”.
Van Rooyen wanted to block the State Capture report, but only those portions which related to him.
This after media reports revealed that Van Rooyen had visited the Guptas on various occasions, and he feared his name had been mentioned in the report.
Zuma wants to stop the report by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela from being published, claiming that he did not have enough time to respond to her questions.
He also wanted the chance to question Madonsela’s witnesses himself.
His lawyer Anthea Platt argued that Madonsela agreed that Zuma’s right to question witnesses was not granted.
Regarding opposition parties having a say in the court matter, Platt argued that their interests were not relevant to Zuma’s request to speak to the witnesses.
But the judges disagreed, and ruled that the parties could submit statements as to why the State Capture report is in the public interest and should not be withheld.
Madonsela had been tasked to find out if allegations that the wealthy Guptas had undue influence in the appointment of ministers was true.
The appointment of state ministers is the sole prerogative of the President, who has close ties with the controversial Indian family.
Outside court, EFF leader Julius Malema held a mini-rally, calling on Zuma to resign.
He said: “Zuma must step down as the president. He doesn’t have what it takes to be a president.
“He has completely failed our people and if we allow him to continue then we must forget about the South African economy it is going to collapse.”