Zuma sets out his opposition to Mbeki’s ConCourt appeal

2008-10-02 00:00

When Jacob Zuma applied for a permanent stay of prosecution in 2005, he “implored” the prosecution to obtain clarification on various issues from then president Thabo Mbeki — a “cardinal and essential witness in the matter” — but was “effectively ignored”.

This is said by Zuma’s attorney, Michael Hulley, in papers filed yesterday in opposition to Mbeki’s appeal to the Constitutional Court against parts of Judge Chris Nicholson’s judgment suggesting that there was “political meddling” by Mbeki and top government officials in Zuma’s prosecution and other matters.

He also contends in the papers (confirmed by Zuma), that Mbeki was not forced to resign solely because of Nicholson’s ruling, and suggests that to say so is an “obvious strategic overstatement”.

Hulley states that Zuma acknowleges that Mbeki did “excellent things” as president, but says that, like all people, he also did things that are “questionable”, the cumulative effect of which caused the ANC to “expedite” his leaving office.

Hulley concedes that Nicholson’s statements may have given opportunity to those who sought the early termination of Mbeki’s presidency, but says the accusations of political meddling did not come from the trial judge, but from Zuma himself, who “firmly and honestly believes” them.

It was clearly alleged all along that there was a political conspiracy to destroy Zuma as political leader and rival of Mbeki for leadership of the ANC and the country, which got “wide and to some extent sensational” coverage in the media.

Mbeki must have been aware of these yet he chose not to intervene.

Hulley said Zuma’s 2005 application for a permanent stay of prosecution included allegations about Mbeki and the need for him to provide testimony about aspects of the prosecution and evidence against Zuma.

Zuma stated then that Mbeki “as president and leader of the Cabinet very much in control of the arms deal”, that Mbeki was the person who was “ideally and obviously suited to depose to the absence of corruption in the award process”, and bemoaned the fact that the prosecution had not seen fit to approach the presidency to eliminate “areas of accusation from the litigation”.

Newspapers “speculated” that Zuma would subpoena Mbeki as a witness.

Yet, says Hulley, Mbeki’s “eagerness” then to be part of the process and provide evidence …” of the true state of affairs” that underlie his present appeal was “conspicuously absent”.

Hulley pointed out further there was no attempt “through affidavit or other testimony from Mr Mbeki” to gainsay Zuma’s allegations in the Mauritian courts that there was political pressure for him to be prosecuted.

Mbeki’s present complaint that he was not party to the proceedings (before Nicholson) appears to be “hollow”.

He also suggests Mbeki should not be allowed to join the proceedings at “appeal time” so avoiding any risk of oral evidence and cross examination.

He warns that if Mbeki tries to assert, as a fact to be determined in the appeal proceedings, that he is “wholly innocent” of political or other interference in Zuma’s prosecution, that oral evidence “may well be necessary”.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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