About-turn on cor­rup­tion charges

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Genevieve Quin­tal

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.

Pic­tures: WERNER HILLS

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

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