No surprise at Zuma ruling, lawyers say
Bloemfontein - The legal fraternity was not surprised by a Supreme Court of Appeal decision in favour of the DA, law professor Tom Coetzee said on Tuesday.
"It was a hopeful sign to see that the decision was an unanimous one," said Coetzee, who is a law lecturer at the North West University.
The court decided in favour of the Democratic Alliance for access to records relating to the suspension of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2009.
The DA wants a review of the decision, by then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop charges against Zuma before he was elected president.
The DA had called on the national prosecuting authority to produce the record of proceedings that led to the decision.
The court held that Mpshe's decision on April 6 2009, to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma on corruption charges, would be subject to review.
Coetzee said the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) decision to dismiss the objection of the NDPP and Zuma to the standing of the DA in the review application was expected.
It was rejected with costs in the judgment.
Coetzee said it was expected that the high court’s decision in regard to the DA’s standing in the matter would not hold.
The SCA held that all political parties in Parliament must necessarily have an interest in ensuring that public power was exercised constitutionally and legally.
The SCA judgment found it was in the public interest and of direct concern to political parties participating in Parliament that an institution such as the NPA acted in accordance with constitutional and legal laws.
"It is of fundamental importance to our democracy that an institution such as the NPA, which is integral to the rule of law, acts in a manner consistent with constitutional prescripts and within its powers," the SCA said.
Coetzee said it was expected that the matter would go to the Constitutional Court.
If the Constitutional Court found the same as the SCA, the DA would be able to bring Mpshe's decision on review.
Coetzee said such a review would be launched in a high court, should the DA decide to file.
On Tuesday, the SCA found that the exercise of public power was regulated by the courts through judicial review.
SCA Judge Mahomed Navsa said in a constitutional state there were, by definition, legal limits to power and that the courts were bestowed with authority to determine the legality of various activities.
This included those of public authorities.
NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA would study the judgment and decide on a way forward.
"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.