Zuma places him­self un­der pres­sure for ‘ir­ra­tional’ claim

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN ND­ABA

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

Zuma made the ad­mis­sion dur­ing the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) hear­ing in which he and the NPA were try­ing to ap­peal a de­ci­sion by a full bench of the high court in Pre­to­ria to re­in­state crim­i­nal charges against him.

The lat­est ad­mis­sion came in the wake of an­other ap­pli­ca­tion in the same court this week in which the DA asked the court to force Zuma to set up a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of inquiry fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions in for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port.

In Oc­to­ber last year, Madon­sela had rec­om­mended that such a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion should be set up within 30 days of her tabling the re­port, but Zuma op­posed the move and asked the same court to re­view Madon­sela’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

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

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

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

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

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

Zuma’s con­ces­sion gave weight to calls by his ANC al­liance part­ners, Cosatu and the SACP, for him to step down from the high­est of­fice in the coun­try.

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

Nt­shal­intshali said the NPA’s rea­sons to ap­peal against the re­in­state­ment of the charges against Zuma were not con­vinc­ing and that “all peo­ple were equal be­fore the law”.

He said Zuma must 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,” Nt­shal­intshali said.

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

SACP act­ing spokesper­son Mh­lekwa Nx­u­malo was equally scathing about Zuma’s con­ces­sion, call­ing it the hall­mark of an “in­con­sis­tent per­son”.

“Our view, as the SACP, is that the president has not been con­sis­tent on this mat­ter. When the ini­tial charges arose, the presi- dent had 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,” he said.

“In the Nkandla mat­ter, he made all sorts of neg­a­tive com­ments about his own com­rades, only to later apol­o­gise to the na­tion and pay the fine for the non-se­cu­rity up­grades at his home,” Nx­u­malo said.

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 comes hot on the heels of a court nul­li­fy­ing the out­comes of last year’s Kwa Zulu-Natal ANC elec­tive con­fer­ence, where Zuma’s al­lies were elected.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said it was too early to comment, say­ing “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 Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Shaun Abra­hams for a de­ci­sion.

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

DA 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.”

MIS­TAKE: For­mer na­tional di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, Mokotedi Mp­she, left, dropped 783 charges against President Ja­cob Zuma.

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