Madonsela threatened to make findings against me, Jacob Zuma claims
President Jacob Zuma claims Thuli Madonsela threatened him and that is why he applied to have the courts stop her from releasing her report into allegations of state capture.
In his affidavit to the Pretoria High Court in his bid to interdict Madonsela from releasing her report today, Zuma said she had told him if he did not answer her questions she would make adverse findings against him and not include any response.
“The respondent (Madonsela) threatened that if I do not respond to the questions, (she) will make a finding against me without hearing my version of the events
“It is this threat that has exacerbated [the need to] bring this urgent application, as the publication of the interim report will infringe on my right to fair administrative action,” Zuma said.
He insisted that he had been unable to give Madonsela a proper response to her questions because of insufficient time.
He said one of the questions Madonsela asked him was whether 21 government and party officials visited the Gupta family’s Saxonworld home. He said he was unable to answer without asking each of them whether they went there.
He said besides it being “a tedious and time-consuming” exercise, he would not have been able to give Madonsela answers because he had to go on a state visit to Kenya.
In his legal papers Zuma argued that Madonsela should leave the report to her successor.
“It is common cause that the investigation is one done by the office of the public protector, which is a Chapter 9 institution with a life beyond the term of office of the incumbent.
“There is no rational explanation why the questions sent to me cannot be properly addressed and the answers furnished within a reasonable time to that office after the respondent (Madonsela) has left,” he argued.
Zuma wants the court to rule that the office of the public protector give him the opportunity to check his diary, consult people, obtain legal advice, verify independently the correctness of the information and then give a response.
His application for the interdict came after Madonsela refused to comply with his demand that she give him an undertaking by Tuesday that she would not complete her report until he had a chance to question those giving evidence against him.
Zuma’s legal adviser, Michael Hulley, instructed the state attorney’s office to serve Madonsela with a notice to interdict her report yesterday – less than a day before Madonsela was due to make it public – saying the president’s rights were trampled on by not being able to properly answer all allegations against him.
Madonsela would have until 9am today to oppose Zuma’s urgent application.
Last night she was meeting her lawyers to determine whether she would oppose the interdict.
Madonsela first wrote to Zuma in March but the president failed to respond to her.
It was only after Madonsela met Zuma last week that he demanded that he be given more time to defend himself.
Madonsela refused to budge, insisting that she would release the preliminary report into allegations of state capture before she departs from office today.
The Gupta family raised the same concerns as Zuma with their lawyer this week, telling Madonsela she would release her report at her peril.
Earlier this week the Guptas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, said they had at first considered interdicting Madonsela but decided against it because the chances of success were slim.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said yesterday that Zuma was becoming desperate to stop the report from being made public.
“The reality is that, as with his corruption charges, Jacob Zuma can do his best to delay accountability but it will eventually catch up with him.
“The DA stands by the public protector in ensuring that full effect is given to the complaint of state capture,” he said.
Political analyst Daniel Silke called Zuma’s interdict “a delaying tactic” and “an embarrassment to The Presidency”.
“Either there is something to fear in the report or you have no confidence in your own Chapter 9 institution to deliver a fair report,” he said.
Silke said the attempts to delay gave a perception that Zuma had something to hide.