Former South African President Jacob Zuma has lost his appeal against a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court that held him personally liable for the legal costs in a case in which his administration unsuccessfully challenged the findings of a 2016 report on high-level corruption published by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.Among other things, Zuma had sought a North Gauteng High Court order setting aside a recommendation by Madonsela that he should appoint a commission of inquiry into the “state capture” allegations levelled against him and some members of his cabinet.
In turning down his request, the high court ruled in 2017 that the former president had a deep personal interest in the issue of the Madonsela report well and ordered him to personally pay US$600,000 for legal costs.
The report contained “troubling allegations of improper relationships between Mr. Zuma, cabinet ministers and senior government officials on the one hand, and the Gupta family on the other,” the high court had ruled three years ago.
Zuma had challenged the ruling requiring him to pay the $600,000 in legal costs, saying that the case took place while he was in office, therefore the state was responsible for settling his legal bills.
Unhappy with the high court ruling, Zuma appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which on Friday ordered him to pay punitive costs as well for the appeal process – in addition to the original bill of US$600,000 legal costs.
In spite of the loss, his legal team stated Zuma was within his constitutional rights to appeal this ruling “all the way to the highest court in the land.”
This opportunity, however, would not be permitted, the appeal court said.
It added that the former president had not behaved in accordance with the constitution when he delayed the formation of the commission of inquiry into State Capture, thereby abrogating his responsibility as a leader in upholding the rule of law following the state capture report.