Zuma’s war on three fronts

2014-08-29 00:00

1 Zuma’s lawyers get a lesson in how not to appeal

THE court yesterday taught President Jacob Zuma legal team a lesson in how not to appeal.

This was the opinion of Judge Mohomed Navsa, on behalf of a full bench in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein, after Zuma’s advocate Kemp J. Kemp had to concede to there were no supporting facts on which he could base his arguments.

This was after Zuma’s legal team had tried appealing against a 2012 court order for the DA to get access to the so-called spy tapes, saying the DA would use the tapes against ­Zuma for political gain. The SCA dismissed Zuma’s application and ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to comply with the 2012 court order, in an application brought by the DA, to release the tapes within five days to retired KwaZulu-Natal high court judge Noel Hurt.

The actual recordings, internal memoranda, reports and minutes of meetings dealing with the contents of the recordings must be provided.

Hurt will now go through the documents and transcripts to mark the documents containing Zuma’s confidential written or oral representations to the NPA and leave that out of the bundle to the DA.

The SCA held Hurt’s ruling would be final and binding on the parties.

The NPA indicated it will comply with the SCA’s ruling.

Conversations on the recordings were cited as a reason to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma, shortly before he was sworn in as president in 2009.

At the time, acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe said they showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case could not continue. The DA applied for access to the tapes but could not — in spite of winning previous court cases — obtain them.

Navsa also gave the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) an unprecedented tongue-lashing, saying “it is to be decried that an important constitutional institution such as the office of the NDPP is loath to take an independent view about confidentiality, or otherwise, of documents and other materials within its possession, particularly in the face of an order of this court”.

Navsa said the NDPP’s “lack of interest in being of assistance to

either the high court or this court is baffling.”

2 Opposition aim is to get president to testify

CAPE TOWN — The parliamentary process to see to it that the recommendations of the public protector (PP) on Nkandla are met, starts today when the parliamentary ad hoc committee meet for the first time.

The five opposition MPs on the Nkandla committee have one aim: to get President Jacob Zuma to testify before the committee.

They will meet early today to plan their strategy before they face six ANC members on the committee at 8.30 am in a committee room in the National Assembly.

EFF leader Julius Malema is a member of the committee and will use the opportunity to score points for the EFF at Zuma’s expense.

Malema said yesterday he is convinced the reason why the speaker wants to suspend the whole EFF caucus from Parliament is to prevent him [Malema] from serving on the Nkandla committee.

Mmusi Maimane and James Selfe represent the DA on the committee.

Dr Corné Mulder (FF+) and Narend Singh (IFP) act on behalf of the smaller parties.

The only official item on today’s agenda is electing the committee’s chairperson, and the six members of the ANC have already decided on Cedric Frolick, a senior ANC MP.

The committee’s mandate will become an important issue.

According to the motion accepted in Parliament, the committee must specifically consider Zuma’s written answer on Nkandla, but ANC chief whip Stone Sizani told the Assembly the committee will have a ‘blank cheque’ with authority to consider any topic.

Opposition parties will insist their mandate should also cover the Nkandla reports by the protector and the Special Investigating Unit.

They hope it will open the door to summon Zuma, the PP and Zuma’s “personal architect” Minenhle Makhanya, to testify.

This could lead to Makhanya directly implicating Zuma in support of the public protector’s finding that he knew more about the buildings at his estate than what he told Parliament.

Although the ANC has a majority on the committee, the committee cannot review or reject the protector’s report.

3 Architect’s potentially damning story

AFTER months of loyal silence, Jacob Zuma’s personal architect, Minenhle Makhanya, is being forced to tell his potentially damning story on the president’s Nkandla home.

This follows the SIU’s R155 million civil claim against Makhanya — as the effective project manager — for wasting taxpayers’ money on the R246 million upgrade, which critics allege was personally guided by the president.

Meanwhile, The Witness has established that both his career and family life have been thrown into turmoil by the Nkandla fall-out.

Yesterday, Makhanya’s attorney, Barnabas Xulu, told the paper that he would oppose the suit in a Pietermaritzburg court in a responding affidavit prior to September 8.

Having held a number of consultations with Makhanya in the past week, Xulu said it was “inconceivable” that his client owed money to the state. The claims would be contested on legal and factual grounds.

But experts say any successful defence of the claim will probably contain sworn evidence implicating superiors for the gross overspending.

Meanwhile, the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, has already revealed that, on this project, no one was higher up than Makhanya except Zuma himself — adding that the architect discussed the designs with Zuma directly, and that “even a minister could have had difficulty countermanding Mr Makhanya”.

According to the SIU’s suit, the budgeted cost of R27 million for the Nkandla upgrade ballooned to R216 million “as a result of the authorisations and approvals given by [Makhanya] acting as the principal agent”. It added: “He also certified payments of invoices submitted by service providers at inflated prices which were higher than market-related prices”.

Xulu’s representation of Ma­khanya suggests there is no split ­between the architect and the president, as Xulu is also a co-founder of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust.

In March, Zuma told Parliament: “I never asked anyone [to develop Nkandla]. I have wives and so I needed to extend my homestead to accommodate my large family. That is not a crime.”

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