The high court ruled that a commission of inquiry into allegations President Jacob Zuma allowed the Gupta family to influence state decisions be established within 180 days, as the graft ombudsman originally ordered last year, dealing Zuma a third legal blow in less than a week.
The court rejected all arguments by Zuma that he alone can set up the commission and ordered him to pay the cost of the case, the judge, Dunstan Mlambo, said on Wednesday in Pretoria.
Then public protector Thuli Madonsela had said that chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should set up the inquiry as the president had a conflict of interest.
Zuma’s action in seeking to overturn the recommendation was “ill-advised and reckless” and the application was a “clear non-starter”, Mlambo said in a unanimous ruling of the court.
The report by Madonsela released in November last year ordered an inquiry into allegations that the Guptas may have influenced the appointment of cabinet members in Zuma’s administration and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and Duduzane Zuma, the president’s son. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.
The ruling follows a decision by the same court last week that the chief prosecutor, who had challenged an opposition party bid to have separate corruption charges against Zuma be reinstated, must vacate his position. It said deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa should appoint a replacement as Zuma was “conflicted”. Earlier on Wednesday, Mlambo ordered that Zuma personally pay for a court attempt to halt the release of the ombudsman’s report last year.
“The decision that the president was reckless resonates with my own view of how the president dealt with this matter,” Madonsela told reporters after the judgment. “The allegations that the state has been captured in the interests of his family and friends is a serious allegation and must be investigated immediately.” — Reported by Amogelang Mbatha, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP