Outgoing public protector Thuli Madonsela was scheduled to recommend a full-blown commission of inquiry into state capture before President Jacob Zuma put a spanner in the works with a last-minute application to interdict her report, which was due to be released on Friday.
The Mail & Guardian understands that phase one of her report was ready for release and Madonsela’s office was locked in meetings until late on Thursday to consider a legal response to Zuma’s move.
By law, only the president is authorised to establish a commission of inquiry – which would, in this case, have been into allegations against himself and the Guptas.
Zuma’s court bid came as a surprise because his spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, had earlier said that the president is not “trying to stymie” the report.
All indications are that Madonsela was ready to release the report. As late as Wednesday afternoon she contacted the Gupta family’s lawyer for access to Ajay Gupta, patriarch of the controversial family.
The M&G has also been told that Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had been asked to make submissions to Madonsela on Thursday.