President Jacob Zuma says that the urgent court application launched this past week to force him to release the Marikana report is not urgent at all.
In an answering affidavit filed on Friday in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Zuma insists he can only release the report “after I have studied it, come to grips with the issues raised in it, and had an opportunity to consider and consult on its implications”.
The case will be argued in court tomorrow.
“These anticipated political ramifications require that I fully understand the consequences of the report, least of all because I will have to address the public, if not the nation, on its contents, and answer important [and difficult] questions on its meaning and impact.”
Zuma’s affidavit was filed in response to the urgent application launched on Monday by the lawyers for the mine workers who were injured and arrested during and after the Marikana massacre of August 2012.
In their papers, the mine workers say that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom they recommended to the commission be charged with 34 counts of murder for his role in demanding “concomitant action” from the police, has access to the report.
They said this “adds to our anxiety” because they fear that “the report may be interfered with due to this unique and unusual situation”.
Zuma does not respond to this allegation in his affidavit.
Instead, Zuma says injured miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana, who represents the 300 miners, is “naive” to expect that he could release the report so soon after receiving it on March 31.
“Mr Magidiwana explains in the founding affidavit that he cannot understand why I need three months to study the report when it took Judge [Ian] Farlam four months to draft it. This is, with respect, a naive statement,” Zuma says.
“This is not a job done by me in isolation. I have a team of trusted and responsible officials to assist me in this task,” he said.
“The report is, as the applicants themselves recognise, extremely important and has the potential to impact upon not only the victims, but indeed the whole country. It is imperative that the process is not rushed.
“They would be violated if I chose not to give the very important report the full attention that it deserves. Unfortunately, that takes time.
“The fact that I have undertaken to release the report, but not when they want it, is hardly a reason to warrant their application getting urgent treatment.”
Two weeks ago, the mine workers’ lawyers, together with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, wrote to Zuma, giving him a two-day deadline to release the report or face legal action.
One of the reasons the miner workers say they need the report urgently is because their three-year window period for civil claims comes to an end in August.
Zuma said they would have at least six weeks to launch their claims after he releases his report on June 30. The second respondent in the matter, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, has not opposed the application.
Two weeks ago, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA wrote to Judge Farlam to remind him that he is not prohibited from releasing the report, even if the president fails to do so.
Magidiwana told City Press yesterday it was extremely unfortunate Zuma didn’t believe the matter was urgent.