Former president Jacob Zuma at the Durban High Court. Picture: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA/POOL
Former president Jacob Zuma at the Durban High Court. Picture: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA/POOL

Former president Jacob Zuma has suggested his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, was wrong not to appeal the State of Capture report judgments, which order Zuma to personally pay the estimated R10m in legal fees attached to the cases.

Zuma says he believes the High Court in Pretoria is unfairly "punishing me" for seeking to challenge former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, despite his continued belief that he was correct in doing so.

"I would have liked to intervene way before the application for leave to appeal was withdrawn by the Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa. That I do not agree with the withdrawal of the application for leave to appeal by the current president is not relevant for present purposes," Zuma states in an affidavit filed at the high court.

Being forced to pay the legal costs of the State of Capture cases "poses a significant financial burden on me personally", he states. The High Court in Pretoria found that Zuma should be held personally liable for the state capture costs because he had "recklessly" litigated. Zuma denies this.

He strongly suggests that he believes there are grounds for Ramaphosa to challenge the State of Capture report, but adds: "I am advised that it would be improper for me to now second-guess the decision of the president in this regard". Zuma has applied for the right to appeal the two State of Capture judgments — which concern his aborted bid to block the release of the report and his later failed bid to review the report — in his personal capacity.

He has denied that his legal challenges to the report were driven by personal interests, because Madonsela implicated him, his son Duduzane Zuma and his friends the Gupta family in wrongdoing. Instead, he had "serious concerns about the constitutionality and/or lawfulness of the remedial action imposed by the public protector", particularly her order that he should not appoint the judge who would preside over a judicial inquiry into state capture.

According to Zuma, he felt that this remedial action amounted to a "usurpation and/or undermining of the president’s constitutional powers and functions" and a "violation and/or trespassing of the separation of powers doctrine".

He believes Madonsela was wrong to "impose remedial action before the investigation was complete" and accuses her of exercising powers in her report that "I believed she did not have".

"An incorrect impression was created that I was either delaying or avoiding the establishment of a commission of inquiry. That has never been my intention," he says.

Zuma maintains that he decided to act on Madonsela’s remedial action and establish an inquiry into state capture — after earlier indicating that he would appeal a judgment endorsing that remedial action — "for certainty in the country and in order to avoid the perception that I was preventing the establishment of the commission for my personal interests".