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.