Lawyers representing president Jacob Zuma in his bid to get an interdict blocking the Public Protector’s report on state capture from being released have denied that he is seeking a ‘blanket ban’ of the report.
Addressing a full panel of the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, opposition parties were arguing to be granted intervention status in the case, saying that it was in the public interest that the report be published as soon as possible.
Lawyers for the opposition parties – including the DA, EFF and COPE – argued that without the Office of the Public Protector opposing the interdict application, they are the only voice the public can rely on to have their say on the matter.
The parties argued further that the results of the case – whether an interdict is granted or not – would have far-reaching consequences, where the president would in effect try to get the report banned completely.
However, the president’s lawyers said this was simply not the case, pointing out that the application specified that Zuma was seeking only to have a fair amount of time – 2 months – to respond to questions presented to him by the Public Protector.
The basis for the president’s case is that, as an implicated person in the investigation, he was not granted a fair opportunity to have his say on allegations of state capture, or to cross-examine witnesses who have made allegations against him.
Opposition parties argue that the report has been finalised, and thus is a closed matter which must be published. The DA’s legal team said that the president can take the report on review, after it has been published.
Lawyers for former ANC MP, Vytjie Mentor, said that the president’s approach is that it’s not for Public Protector to determine he’s been heard, but rather that it is for him to decide.
The High Court will rule today whether or not the opposition parties can be brought in as intervening parties, thereafter the case will continue.