Zuma abused judicial process with watchdog report challenge, says court

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 13, 2017 4:00 AM

PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa's High Court ordered President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday to pay for an attempt to block an inquiry into claims of influence-peddling in his government, describing the lawsuit he filed as an abuse of the judicial process.

In the latest in a series of judicial blows to Zuma's scandal-tinged administration, High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said Zuma should be held personally liable for the costs of the court challenge.

The judicial inquiry was recommended a year ago in a report by the Public Protector, the country's anti-graft agency, whose release Zuma had sought to block through the courts.

The president then filed another court application challenging the right of the report's author, former Public Protector head Thuli Madonsela, to call for the inquiry.

Ordering Zuma to pay the costs of that challenge, Mlambo said the president's conduct was "clearly objectionable ... and amounts to clear abuse of the judicial process."

It was not immediately clear if Zuma would appeal.

The report focused on allegations that Zuma's friends, the businessmen and brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, had influenced the appointment of ministers. Zuma and the Guptas have denied all accusations of wrongdoing.

The High Court is due to rule later on whether Zuma can be legally compelled by the Public Protector to set up the inquiry.

On Friday, the same court ruled that Zuma's appointment of a state prosecutor was not valid and should be set aside immediately. Zuma is appealing that ruling.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Writing by James Macharia; editing by John Stonestreet)