Zuma’s big ad­mis­sion in Ap­peal Court

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - Bald­win Nd­aba

FUR­THER pres­sure is mount­ing on President Ja­cob Zuma to step down fol­low­ing his own ad­mis­sion that the de­ci­sion of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity (NPA) to drop 783 crim­i­nal charges against him “was ir­ra­tional”.

Zuma made the ad­mis­sion through his coun­sel dur­ing the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) hear­ing yes­ter­day in which he and the NPA were try­ing to ap­peal a full bench of the Pre­to­ria High Court’s rul­ing to re­in­state crim­i­nal charges against him.

This came in the wake of an­other court ap­pli­ca­tion in the Pre­to­ria High Court this week in which the DA asked the court to force Zuma to set up a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of inquiry, fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions by the for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor, Thuli Madon­sela, in her State of Cap­ture re­port.

In Oc­to­ber last year she rec­om­mended that a com­mis­sion be set up within 30 days of her tabling the re­port.

How­ever, Zuma op­posed the move and asked the same court to re­view Madon­sela’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

Yes­ter­day, Zuma sur­prised many when for the first time, he ad­mit­ted that the for­mer na­tional di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, Mokotedi Mp­she, had been wrong when he dropped the charges against him.

The NPA also ad­mit­ted that Mp­she had used the wrong legal statute to with­draw the charges.

Ini­tially, though, the NPA’s legal coun­sel, Hil­ton Ep­stein, SC, had wanted the court to up­hold the ap­peal against the re­in­state­ment of the charges.

Ep­stein later back­tracked when the judges of the SCA pointed out sev­eral in­ad­e­qua­cies in Mp­she’s de­ci­sion.

The judges said the de­ci­sion to charge Zuma was the de­ci­sion of pros­e­cu­tors and not of the for­mer NPA’s head, Leonard McCarthy, whom Ep­stein had ear­lier ac­cused of hav­ing “ma­nip­u­lated the charges against Zuma”.

Zuma’s con­ces­sion gave weight to the call by the ANC’s al­liance part­ners, Cosatu and the SACP, for him to step down as president.

Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Bheki Nt­shal­intshali said the con­ces­sion Zuma had made in the Supreme Court yes­ter­day, through his legal coun­sel Kemp J Kemp, SC, was suf­fi­cient grounds for him to step down and to fo­cus on the im­pend­ing charges against him.

Nt­shal­intshali said the NPA’s rea­sons for ap­peal­ing the re­in­state­ment of the charges against Zuma were not con­vinc­ing. “All peo­ple are equal be­fore the law,” he said.

Nt­shal­intshali said Zuma had to be given an op­por­tu­nity to state his case be­fore a court of law.

“He must step down like (for­mer deputy min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion) Mduduzi Manana and an­swer to the al­le­ga­tions against him,” Nt­shal­intshali said.

He con­ceded that Cosatu was ea­gerly wait­ing the fi­nal out­come of the SCA rul­ing.

The SACP’s act­ing spokesper­son, Mh­lekwa Nx­u­malo, was equally scathing about Zuma’s con­ces­sion.

“Our view as the SACP is that the president has not been con­sis­tent in this mat­ter. When the ini­tial charges arose, the president painted him­self as a vic­tim of a po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme of some within the ANC to use state agen­cies against him.

“He used the same tac­tics dur­ing the Nkandla saga,” Nx­u­malo pointed out.

“In the Nkandla mat­ter, he made all sorts of neg­a­tive com­ments about his own com­rades only to later apol­o­gise to the na­tion,” he added.

The re­in­state­ment of charges against Zuma was also set to be a big blow to pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, whose cam­paign is closely as­so­ci­ated with the president af­ter he en­dorsed her.

This also comes hard on the heels of the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court in KwaZulu-Natal nul­li­fy­ing the out­come of the ANC pro­vin­cial elec­tive con­fer­ence in that prov­ince in Novem­ber 2015 where Zuma’s al­lies were elected.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said it was too early to comment, adding that “it would be ill-ad­vised to comment be­fore the Supreme Court of Ap­peal makes its fi­nal rul­ing on the mat­ter”.

NPA spokesper­son Lu­vuyo Mfaku said the SCA was likely to re­fer its de­ci­sion to the Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions, Shaun Abra­hams, for a de­ci­sion to con­tinue with the charges against Zuma.

The DA, how­ever, main­tained that they would do ev­ery­thing in their power to en­sure that Zuma was crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted.

The DA’s fed­eral coun­cil chair­per­son James Selfe said: “Even if it takes us 18 years or more, we are go­ing to get to a sit­u­a­tion where Ja­cob G Zuma gets to ap­pear in court.”

Screen­grabs of ad­vo­cate Hil­ton Ep­stein SC, rep­re­sent­ing the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity, and ad­vo­cate Kemp J Kemp SC, rep­re­sent­ing President Ja­cob Zuma in the Supreme Court of Ap­peal, Bloem­fontein.

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