Opposition parties welcome SCA judgement

By Drum Digital
20 March 2012

Opposition parties have welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal's ruling that the NPA produce the record of its 2009 decision to suspend criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ordered on Tuesday that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) "produce and lodge" the record of the decision with the Registrar of the Court within 14 days.

The judgment was victory for constitutional democracy, said Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille. The DA was the first appellant in the case.

"The judgment held that the NPA must make available the requested record of decision it used when then acting national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, made the decision to drop charges against Jacob Zuma," she told journalists at Parliament.

The DA is seeking a review of the decision, by Mpshe, to drop charges against Zuma before he was elected president.

Zille said the SCA had ruled that the NPA would be obliged to make available whatever was before Mpshe when he made that decision.

The importance of such evidence to the outcome of the DA's review application could not be overstated.

"The record of decision will shed light on whether Mokotedi Mpshe made the decision to withdraw the prosecution on rational, legal grounds, or whether he made the decision based on political considerations," Zille said.

The SCA judgment had also affirmed that a decision to discontinue a prosecution was reviewable by the courts, and that the DA, as a political party, had the legal standing to bring such a review application.

Corruption charges had "hung over" Zuma long before he was elected president of the African National Congress.

"South African's have a right to know what the defence is to those allegations, and whether there is substance in them or not -- after all, he is now the president of this country."

However, the president and his legal team had "dragged this particular case... through every single nook and cranny of filibustering, delaying and obfuscation, to avoid it ever coming to court".

She expected Zuma and the NPA would now "use every legal trick in the book to delay, stall and sidetrack proceedings, in an attempt to win time for Jacob Zuma to serve two terms as president".

In a statement on Tuesday, Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe welcomed the SCA's judgment.

"We believe that the fullest disclosure of all the facts pertaining to this case will lead us to the truth, to the triumph of justice, and ultimately the closure of one of the most embarrassing chapters in our democratic era."

Van der Merwe said the ruling affirmed that no one in South Africa was above the law.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said it would now be seen to what extent Mpshe was pressurised into taking his decision.

"If those who exerted this pressure can be identified, they must be made to face the nation," he said.

The Congress of the People said it was encouraged by the ruling.

"We are encouraged by the ruling and that the dark cloud hanging over the country about clarity on this matter will now begin to shed light as the case must unfold the truth," it said.

The presidency said in a statement earlier on Tuesday, that it had noted the SCA's judgment.

"We wish to emphasise that the decision taken by the acting national director of public prosecution on April 6, 2009, not to prosecute President Jacob Zuma, stands."

The SCA, in its judgment, had explicitly stated that the "appeal does not concern the merits of a decision taken... by the acting NDPP to discontinue a prosecution ... against Mr Jacob Zuma'', it said.

In its judgment, the SCA ruled that the record to be handed over should exclude written representations made on behalf of Zuma and any consequent memoranda or reports prepared in response, or oral representations, if their production would breach confidentiality agreements.

The SCA further held that the record should consist of the documents and material relevant to the review, including those before Mpshe when he made his decision.

NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said on Tuesday the authority would study the judgment to determine the next legal steps.

"We wish to state that we still stand by advocate Mpshe's decision and remind all that these were preliminary issues with no direct impact on his decision not to prosecute," he said.

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