SCA ruling: What now for Zuma?

2012-03-20 11:35

The DA has only won its first victory in what is likely to be a long legal battle to have corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma reinstated.

The Supreme Court of Appeal this morning ruled that the DA had the legal standing, or right, to ask a court to review the decision.

It also ruled that the 2009 decision of Mokotedi Mpshe, acting national director of public prosecutions, to drop the charges against Zuma could be subjected to review by a court under the doctrine of the rule of law.

But the SCA did not deal with the merits in this case.

It only had to decide the preliminary questions of whether a decision by the director of public prosecutions could be reviewed by a court and whether the DA had the standing to do so.

The following scenarios now become possible:
» Both Zuma and the NPA can appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment on the preliminary questions to the Constitutional Court. The principle of the rule of law is contained in the Bill of Rights, and the Constitutional Court has final say over constitutional matters.

» If both Zuma and the NPA decide to abide by the judgment, the matter will be referred back to the North Gauteng High Court where the merits of the decision will be argued.

Crucial to the case in the high court will be the “reduced record” – everything that Mpshe used in deciding to discontinue the case, but excluding the submissions made by Zuma.

The reduced record excludes all written submissions, memorandums and oral representations made by Zuma.

These disclosures were made in terms of the National Prosecuting Authority Act and are protected by it.

SCA Judge Mahomed Navsa pointed out in the judgment that the incomplete picture the reduced record paints “may well have the effect of the NDPP being at risk of not being able to justify the decision”.

But Navsa also says that this may work in favour of the NPA and Zuma, as the DA might not have enough evidence to point to the fact that the decision was taken unlawfully.

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