South Afrucan President Jacob Zuma says he will study the contents of the State Capture report by the former Public Protector (Ombudsman) and decide later whether he should challenge the findings in court.
Zuma earlier this week withdrew his application to the court to interdict the release of the report for a “speedy resolution” and the court subsequently ordered the Public Protector to release the report by 5pm Wednesday.
The investigation centres around allegations of undue influence by the Gupta family, a South African family active in various businesses, in the appointment of ministers and board members of State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Judge Dunstan Mlambo’s judgment that the report be released Wednesday was received by applause as a victory for the opposition parties.
President Zuma, who had contended his rights to question witnesses has been infringed, Wednesday made a U-turn. In a statement, Zuma said that in the interest of justice and a speedy resolution he was withdrewing the application. However, he will study the report to ascertain if the report should be taken under review.
This has been the contention of intervening parties since application was launched that should the president feel aggrieved he should challenge it in court. The next hurdle is who should pay the cost of all six counsels involved the matter. The order on who should foot the bill has been reserved.
The report says it has found a wide range of issues of concern. In its remedial action, the report recommends that President Jacob Zuma should appoint a judicial commission of inquiry within 30 days.
The report goes on to say that the commission’s findings should be presented to President Jacob Zuma within six months of the establishment of the commission. It also directs Treasury to provide adequate funding to the commission.
The Public Protector’s report notes among other things its concern that Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs David Van Rooyen can be placed at the Gupta family home in Saxonwold on seven occasions, including the day he was announced as the new Finance Minister in December 2015, a position he held for only four days before switching portfolios with current Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
meanwhile, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has welcomed the release of the Public Protector’s report, saying it views the allegations very seriously.
Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the report would be used to restore the credibility and confidence of the people in the party. The allegations of “State Capture” by the Gupta family have created divisions within the ruling party.
The ANC also welcomed the president’s decision to withdraw his application to stop the release of the report. “We want to act on the report to restore the credibility and confidence of our people to their own organiZation. But also to defend the democratic state in its character.”
It cautioned that the President would still be entitled to take the report for a review in court, if aggrieved by its contents. It also welcomed the protests in Pretoria to raise concerns about state capture.
“It must not be seen as anti-ANC, anti-government. It is about South Africa in the first instance. I think all of us are, in terms of making sure that anything that is anti-thesis of our constitutional democracy, we must mobilize all of us.”
Political analyst Steven Friedman said: “We have to be concerned when people are accused of trying to take over government for private purposes. But on the other hand, we have to balance this and we have to say that, as long as the courts are operating as well as they can, as long as people operate freely.”
Friedman warned that the report was preliminary and not recommendations.
Meanwhile, the office of the Public Protector has confirmed that Chief Executive Officer to the Public Protector’s Office Louisa Zondo has resigned.
Its spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said Zondo stepped down from her position for personal reasons saying she wanted to concentrate on her health.
Zondo is the second Chief Executive to resign from the institution in under two years, following the resignation of her predecessor, Themba Mthetwa, for reasons of remuneration and opportunity in December 2014.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK.