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Zuma court move in Gupta matter fails

Mar 28 2017 11:58
Matthew le Cordeur

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma’s legal representatives declined to join proceedings in the matter between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments.

On Monday Zuma entered the case, which involves 14 companies owned by the Guptas, National Treasury, the Reserve Bank governor, the FIC director, the registrar of Banks, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Absa and FNB.

However, the full bench of the North Gauteng High Court didn’t quite understand why he had entered as an interested party.

READ: LIVE: #GordhanGupta: Can of worms or open cards?

Zuma’s court intervention, which is being tackled by state attorney counsel M Chaskalson, is with regards to Standard Bank’s extended declaratory order against Zuma and all members of the Cabinet, which it included in its responding affidavit.

The state attorney said Zuma was added to Standard Bank’s responding affidavit “in circumstances where the president and no members of the Cabinet other than the minister of finance are parties to the proceedings”.

Surprised, Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court Dunstan Mlambo wanted to know why Zuma’s team was even at court, remarking that they are not respondents in the case. 

READ: Zuma told SACP he's firing Gordhan, say sources

“We were surprised by your motion,” said Mlambo. “The best you can do is seek and observe.” 

Additionally, he said: “The president knew about this matter since December. Why did you only file on Monday?”

Asked whether Zuma would like to join as a respondent in the case, Chaskalson was quick to respond: “We don't want to join proceedings of this application.

“In that case, we just want the court to know about the correspondence between Zuma and Standard Bank,” he said. 

Mlambo concluded the matter by saying: “That is a wise decision, Mr Chaskalson.”

In an affidavit submitted to court on Monday, the state attorney said: “The president ...seeks a striking from the roll, with costs, of Standard Bank’s application for the relief … which it styles as a notice of motion."

In its papers filed on December 13 2016, Standard Bank asked the court to prevent Zuma and any of his ministers from intervening in its decision to close company accounts associated with Oakbay.

After tea, Chaskalson asked to be excused: “Are we that boring?” Mlambo asked. “You are free to go, Mr Chaskalson.”

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