25/10/2017 11:08 BST | Updated 25/10/2017 11:08 BST

Mpofu: 'Country Is Burning; No Time For Delays'

Dali Mpofu was arguing on behalf of the United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People on Wednesday.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Advocate Dali MpofuREUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Advocate Dali Mpofu says if President Jacob Zuma were acting in the interest of South Africa, he would not be using delaying tactics to fight the recommendations set out in the Public Protector's State of Capture report.

"What is being vindicated here is the rights of the public to have a credible process...What they (the president's legal team) are doing, is to impugn the credibility of the chief justice," Mpofu said.

Mpofu was arguing on behalf of the United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People at the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday, where Zuma's legal team launched a bid to oppose the recommendations made by former public protector, Thuli Madonsela.

Last year, Madonsela directed the president to establish a commission of inquiry led by a judge appointed by the Chief Justice. However, Zuma is arguing that he, as the president, is the only one with the power to decide the terms of reference and the judge who will preside over the inquiry.

"What the public protector calls observations are nothing but prima facie findings, preliminary findings, it doesn't matter what you call them. The question is what is the substance. The public protector makes the point repeatedly in her report about the failure of the president when invited to do so to comment on the evidence," Mpofu said.

Mpofu said Zuma has a duty to uphold, protect and defend the constitution and to assist the public protector to ensure there is no maladministration, and to ensure that matters like these are dealt with without delay.

"The country is burning; we don't have time to get legal opinions from the courts... a reasonable president would not have employed these delaying tactics," Mpofu said.

"If indeed the Guptas knew about a Cabinet reshuffle or the appointment of a finance minister before it happened, there is only one person in the whole world who could have told them that –- the president. It postulates the end of the world."

Referring to the Guptas, Mpofu said if a private entity starts to employ cabinet ministers, "we must kiss democracy goodbye".

"If he (Zuma) is acting in the public interest, he would not resist the involvement of the chief justice," Mpofu said.