‘Spy tapes’ appeal coming
Prosecuting head remains mum on next move as ANC again closes ranks and wastes no time in attacking court ruling
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is preparing to challenge the North Gauteng High Court ruling that the decision to drop charges against President Jacob Zuma was irrational.
Four senior prosecuting authority insiders told City Press this weekend that a decision to appeal the ruling was taken even before Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba handed it down on Friday.
But before the authority appeals, they need a green light from the presidency.
“Preparations for leave to appeal are already under way,” said a senior NPA official yesterday.
“The NPA is also awaiting the information from President Zuma’s legal team on how the appeal process will be handled.”
However, prosecuting head Shaun Abrahams told City Press that “it is incorrect that a decision has been made to appeal the ruling of the Pretoria high court”.
“I am not certain what information you have, but if you did not obtain it directly from me or my spokesperson, Advocate Luvuyo Mfaku, then it is incorrect. I am currently studying the judgment and will only decide on the way forward after careful consideration thereof.”
In a statement yesterday, the presidency appeared to leave its appeal options open, saying: “As a party to the proceedings, the president has noted the decision of the court and will give consideration to the judgment and its consequences and the remedies available in terms of our law.”
However, another senior NPA official said the authority did not do its best to win.
“It is bizarre. I saw it coming. It was almost as if my boss [Abrahams] was trying to lose the case – he removed all the advocates who knew the detail of the case. I was not surprised it was lost.”
A senior Hawks member, who is privy to NPA affairs, said those hoping to see Zuma in court “will have to wait for many years”.
The charges against the president include 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering that were dropped by then acting prosecutions head Mokotedi Mpshe in 2009.
They will now have to be reinvestigated by the Hawks following the disbandment of investigative agency the Scorpions in 2009.
The senior Hawks official said: “I know they will appeal, which will take many years to reach a final conclusion. But if the matter has to be back in court, the Hawks will have to open new statements and gather evidence to be used for prosecution.”
Delivering the judgment, Ledwaba said: “It is thus our view that the envisaged prosecution against Mr Zuma was not tainted by the allegations against [Scorpions chief Leonard] McCarthy.”
The allegations regarded the alleged collusion – caught on the so-called spy tapes – between senior prosecutors, investigators and members of then president Thabo Mbeki’s administration to charge Zuma before the ANC’s Polokwane conference, to reduce his chances of being elected president of the party.
“Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment. This court finds that the decision of April 1 2009 to discontinue the prosecution of the case against Mr Zuma is irrational and should be reviewed and set aside,” the court ruled.
But the ANC has closed ranks behind Zuma in the wake of Friday’s judgment.
Party and alliance leaders yesterday used the funeral of Dudu Mchunu, ANC activist and wife of KwaZuluNatal MEC Willies Mchunu, to defend Zuma and attack the court’s decision.
Mchunu’s funeral was attended by ANC treasurergeneral Zweli Mkhize and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Emmanuel Moloi, who sits on the national executive committee (NEC) of the SA National Civic Organisation, fired the first salvo by saying that while they respected the courts, they rejected the judgment and questioned a lack of consistency. “What kind of judges are these?” asked Moloi. “This is a problem. We are intelligent enough to question and to see that something is wrong here.”
“I can guarantee … that Msholozi is not going to be charged. I am telling you the comrade is not going to be prosecuted … I am talking about President Msholozi,” he said.
ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said “nothing has changed” because of the judgment.
“We still have a government that is stable and that is working,” he said.
ANC chairperson and Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete called for party unity, saying those who sponsored nongovernmental organisations in a bid to overthrow the ANC were “playing”.
The SA Communist Party was less forthright in its backing of Zuma than in the past. It said it would study the judgment and cautioned that “the matter does not require to be handled with any prejudices”.
ANC leaders said the judgment was unlikely to have as much impact inside the party as the recent Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla because leaders had already decided to close ranks ahead of the municipal elections and next year’s party conference.
An ANC NEC member said that although the judgment “is bad for the ANC’s credibility and reignites the issue about Zuma being a liability”, nothing was likely to happen. “We have already taken a stance of defending this man. The problem is that we have gone out to our structures and decided to close ranks. It is near impossible to do a U-turn on that as a result of another judgment. There is a display of support from some of the structures. Also, who would want to be seen to differ? People’s careers are at stake here. They would not want to say whether this man is right or wrong.”
What kind of judges are these? This is a problem. We are intelligent enough to question and to see that something is wrong here