About-turn on corruption charges
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has admitted that the 2009 decision to have corruption charges against him dropped was irrational, but now wants the National Prosecuting Authority to make a rational one.
In an 11th-hour concession yesterday, Kemp J Kemp for Zuma told the Supreme Court of Appeal that his client had conceded to this, but wanted the opportunity to then make fresh representations before the NPA decided to recharge him.
This would put the decision on whether Zuma ultimately faces 783 charges of corruption in the hands of present National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams.
However, Justice Mahomed Navsa said those processes were not for the SCA to decide on.
Abrahams and the NPA have been accused of protecting Zuma. For the past decade, the NPA has been seen to be politically captured.
It has also been accused of bias and selective prosecution.
The decision to drop the charges against Zuma was taken in April 2009 by then acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe.
The DA approached the Pretoria High Court to have the decision declared null and void and in April last year the court ruled that the NPA must reinstate the charges.
Zuma and the NPA approached the Supreme Court of Appeal in a bid to appeal against this ruling.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said given the weight of the concessions made by Zuma and the NPA, it was inevitable that the president would face the corruption charges.
“What we are hoping the court will do is go ahead and give some clarity to the process that must now take place,” he said.
“As we all know, the president is an expert on delaying tactics and what we would want the court to do is to lay something down about the process that needs to be followed to get Jacob Zuma to appear in a dock in a court within the next couple of months.”
Selfe said there were excellent grounds to have Zuma pay for the matter out of his own pocket.
He said court proceedings over the last eight years had made a big dent in the public purse, possibly almost R30-million.
Hilton Epstein, for the NPA, argued that Mpshe’s decision to drop the charges had been based on the timing of the indictment being served and that there had been political interference by Scorpion boss Leonard McCarthy, who was a staunch supporter of former
president Thabo Mbeki. There was nothing wrong with the prosecutorial process or any interference there.
This was at the time when Zuma was contesting Mbeki for the position of ANC president at the 2007 Polokwane conference.
If the SCA dismisses the application for leave to appeal and upholds the high court judgment, the NPA wants the decision of whether Zuma is charged to revert to Abrahams.
However, Justice Azhar Cachalia said it was his understanding that Abrahams would be bound by the decision of his predecessor.
Zuma had already made representations, which were rejected back in 2009 when the decision was taken to prosecute him.
“If Mr Abrahams is concerned that he has to reapply his mind afresh, we will be here nine years later,” he said.
Justice Eric Leach, during arguments for the application for leave to appeal, questioned why Zuma had approached the court if he was ultimately agreeing with what the high court had ruled.
Kemp said he wanted the court to set out the processes going forward.
This would include allowing Zuma to make fresh representations so that the NPA could make a decision on whether to continue with the prosecution. Judgment in the matter was reserved. NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said after the court proceedings that the concession, after an eight-year court battle, was not an embarrassment for the institution.
“Whenever you believe in a particular principle you need to pursue that principle to the end,” he said.
He would not comment further, saying the NPA would wait until the court had handed down judgment.
BIG WELCOME: President Jacob Zuma is flanked by church leaders before addressing a packed Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton yesterday. Zuma was in the city to meet the church leaders, who form part of Idamasa. Seated, front from left, are Zuma, provincial ANC executive committee member Andile Lungisa and former Bay mayor Ben Fihla