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President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/LUC GNAGO
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/LUC GNAGO

The state capture inquiry chaired by acting chief justice Raymond Zondo must submit its final report to President Cyril Ramaphosa by February 2022, a court heard on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa then has until the end of June to submit a copy of the report and inform parliament what he intends doing about its recommendations.

Judge Mandla Mbongwe presided over a virtual sitting of the matter in which Ramaphosa made a counter-bid to an extension application by the state capture inquiry, asking the court to clarify if he could decide when to publicly release the report and that he was not bound to deliver it to parliament within two weeks of receipt.

TimesLIVE recently reported Ramaphosa made the application after Zondo urgently approached the court for yet another extension of the deadline to submit his report to the president.

In his affidavit Ramaphosa said this was Zondo’s sixth extension application, while the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) said it was his seventh.

Zondo proposed he would deliver his report in parts — the first before the end of December, the second before the end of January and the third before the end of February.

On Tuesday, advocate Timothy Bruinders SC said Ramaphosa preferred the report to be submitted to him in its entirety rather than in instalments by the end of February because it would “make for coherence, comprehensiveness and practicality.”

“In addition, what the president seeks, is extending the time to allow the president four months after receipt of the complete report from the commission before submitting a copy of the report to parliament and communicating his intentions about implementation of the report to parliament.”

He reminded the court that the 2017 order requires Ramaphosa to submit a copy of the report and to communicate with parliament about the report within 14 days of its release.

“What the alternative seeks to achieve means receipt of the report at the end of February next year, and then what the president seeks is four months within which to respond or communicate to parliament about what he will do about the report.”

Ramaphosa said “effective communication with parliament about the report is only possible after sight of the complete report, after consideration and advice of the complete report and after engagement with relevant colleagues, persons and institutions about the implementation of the complete report”.

Mbongwe said it was his understanding that it was Ramaphosa’s prerogative to release the report once he had dealt with it.

“It’s a bit misty about the four-month period. I considered this to mean the president needs the four months after he has received the entire report, be it in three parts,” Mbongwe said.

“He would have had time, in four months, to go through the report because it is not only about him reading the report, but he has to go through the recommendations and indicate what he intends to do with the recommendations, and at that stage maybe he will address parliament, but before then I do not see how that is possible.”

Either way, Mbongwe said Ramaphosa needs four months to do what he needs to do after reading the report and has to indicate that by the time he addresses parliament.

Mbongwe asked Bruinders whether he wanted both the declaratory and the extension.

Bruinders said Ramaphosa sought one of the two outcomes.

“We have to be practical in approach because if he was to release the report 14 days after receiving it in February that puts on a lot of pressure. I doubt he would have done anything about the report,” Mbongwe told Bruinders.

“The important thing is that there is work he has to do. In my view, I would have said that if the four months accommodates both him having gone through the report and having done what he needs to do on the report, then 14 days is either included in the four month extension or an additional 14 days after the expiry period of the four months.”

Mbongwe asked Bruinders to “redraft the order to say the extension is granted until the end of June (2022), which is the period the president would have done whatever he needs to do and release the report by no later”.

Mbongwe said he believes this is a reasonable period and “gives enough time to release the report.”

He said if the order is redrafted to reflect the extension is until June 30, 2022, then it “will be endorsed and made an order of the court”.

Casac’s Lawson Naidoo said while the order states the commission must complete its work by the end of February 2022, “it does not make it explicitly clear that is also the date by which the acting chief justice must submit his report to the president. However, that is the understanding of the parties, that February 28 is the date of the submission of the full report to the president.”

TimesLIVE

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