President Jacob Zuma’s executive powers were not unlimited, the public protector and opposition parties argued in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday. The argument stood in contrast with Zuma’s assertion that the public protector did not have the power to dictate to him that he appoint a judicial commission of inquiry on her terms. Zuma has also argued that the power to establish commissions of inquiry and to decide on their terms is vested in the president alone. In her state-capture report, handed down just before her term expired, former public protector Thuli Madonsela recommended that Zuma establish the commission. Because the president was conflicted, she also recommended that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng appoint the judge to head the judicial commission. Advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, for the president, argued that the recommendation infringed on the separation of powers doctrine, as the president could not be dictated to on how to use the executive powers solely vested in h...

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