Knives out for Zuma af­ter court shocker

Cor­rup­tion charges would be grounds to un­seat him, say some


Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s de­trac­tors are plot­ting a last-ditch at­tempt to re­move him fol­low­ing a dra­matic con­ces­sion by his le­gal team at the Supreme Court of Ap­peal this week.

The Sun­day Times can re­veal that Zuma’s lawyers’ con­ces­sion in court that the de­ci­sion to drop charges against him was in­deed ir­ra­tional has re­vived plans to force the pres­i­dent to step down af­ter sev­eral at­tempts within the ANC in par­lia­ment failed.

ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers who are known back­ers of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said they hoped the even­tual SCA judg­ment would force Zuma to re­sign.

This is premised on a de­ci­sion of the ANC’s 2015 na­tional gen­eral coun­cil that lead­ers who were charged with crim­i­nal of­fences should step aside to pre­vent drag­ging the name of the ANC through the mud.

“The NGC said the as­sump­tion of ‘in­no­cent un­til proven guilty’ is com­pro­mis­ing the in­tegrity of the ANC. The re­sponse has al­ways been that the com­rade is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty. But that prin­ci­ple is not as­sist­ing the ANC,” said the NEC mem­ber.

The ANC fur­ther reaf­firmed at its pol­icy con­fer­ence in June that the prin­ci­ple of “in­no­cent un­til proven oth­er­wise” had be­come a stum­bling block for the ANC.

This was the ba­sis on which for­mer deputy min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion Mduduzi Manana was made to re­sign af­ter he was charged with as­sault­ing a woman at a Jo­han­nes­burg night­club.

Now Zuma’s de­trac­tors say it should be no dif­fer­ent for him. ‘He doesn’t want to go to jail’ On Thurs­day, the SCA heard an eleven­th­hour con­ces­sion by Zuma’s le­gal team that the de­ci­sion to with­draw crim­i­nal charges against him by for­mer NPA head Mokotedi Mp­she was ir­ra­tional and wrong.

This is seen as in­creas­ing the chances that the SCA will rule that the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion to charge Zuma still stands, and he will have to stand trial on more than 700 counts of cor­rup­tion and fraud.

An­other ANC NEC mem­ber con­firmed that the de­vel­op­ments at the SCA al­lowed for a fresh at­tempt from within the ANC to re­move Zuma from of­fice.

His op­po­nents have also put their hopes on a pend­ing Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­ci­sion on whether Zuma should be im­peached, af­ter the same court found he failed to up­hold the con­sti­tu­tion in mat­ters re­lated to the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s find­ings on Nkandla.

In the past, when ANC lead­ers ar­gued in­ter­nally that Zuma should step aside pend­ing the out­come of ac­cu­sa­tions made against him, he and his sup­port­ers have al­ways coun­tered by say­ing that Zuma was not fac­ing any charges, nor had he been found guilty in a court of law.

Zuma’s sup­port­ers this week con­ceded that Zuma’s “po­lit­i­cal game plan” was linked to the pos­si­bil­ity of him stand­ing trial.

“He doesn’t want to go to jail. It’s as sim­ple as that,” a known Zuma sup­porter told the Sun­day Times this week.

Mean­while, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe cau­tioned ANC branches this week through a cir­cu­lar that they should not elect crim­i­nals as lead­ers.

“The can­di­dates must be dis­ci­plined mem­bers of the ANC for at least 10 years, who are free from any dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee or crim­i­nal con­vic­tions,” he wrote.

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