New Zuma bid to block trial

2008-06-23 00:00

Jacob Zuma has accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of having a “grim resolve” to prosecute him “irrespective of the facts and circumstances” and so prevent him from becoming president.

This allegation is contained in court papers filed by his lawyer, Michael Hulley, in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday.

Zuma put his cards on the table by launching an application to declare as invalid and unconstitutional, the NPA’s decisions to prosecute him both in June 2005, and December last year.

The application is due to be heard on August 4 — the date the NPA announced for the start of Zuma and Thint’s trial on charges of fraud, corruption, racketeering, tax evasion and money laundering.

Zuma makes it clear that if that application fails, he will launch a second application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma contends in his application papers that the NPA was obliged in terms of the Constitution and the National Prosecuting Authority Act of 1998 to afford him the opportunity to make representations before deciding to prosecute him in 2005 and 2007.

The main ground for the application is that the decision to prosecute Zuma constitutes a review of and a reversal of an earlier decision (publicly announced by former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka in August 2003), not to prosecute him. Zuma maintains that he was never given the chance to make representations on whether that 2003 decision should be reviewed, as allegedly required under the Constitution.

Zuma makes it clear in his affidavit that he continues to believe his prosecution is being driven by political motives.

He also refers to previously voiced contentions that his trial is unfair — given that he was under intense investigation from at least the middle of 2001, and that when Schabir Shaik was prosecuted on corruption charges that “mirror” those on which he is now indicted, Ngcuka saw fit not to charge him.

He also reiterates the strain to which he has been subjected personally and politically.

Zuma alleges that following the decision by Judge Herbert Msimang to strike his trial off the roll in September 2006 and the NPA’s public comments that a re-starting of the prosecution might be imminent, he and those wishing him to occupy a leadership role in the ANC were concerned about criminal charges being relaunched — particularly at a critical time, politically.

As a result, his attorney wrote to the NDPP requesting an opportunity to make representations in respect of any decision to charge him criminally, but received a “laconic reply” to the effect that they were not reviewing the decision to charge him.

“It would clearly have enhanced the credibility and impartiality of the decision to prosecute or not if it had been taken after hearing representations and if feasible prior to the Polokwane elections,” states Zuma.

Instead he alleges the NPA — some days before his election as president of the ANC at Polokwane — “clearly leaked reports to the press that the NPA is ready to charge me”.

On the last day of the Polokwane conference (December 20 last year) acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe was reported to have stated that the decision was “imminent” and intimated clearly that it would be to prosecute him, said Zuma.

He said the timing and reasons for the 2007 decision by Mpshe will be addressed if need be in a subsequent application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

However, he states the only reasonable inference to be drawn is one of a “grim resolve irrespective of the facts and circumstances, to prosecute me and so prevent my presidency, since the earlier strategy to denounce me in public as a crook did not have this desired effect”.

Zuma submits the NDPP and NPA displayed a “flagrant disregard” for their constitutional obligations by not calling for representations from him and alleges there is no conceivable explanation “save that there was a grim determination to prosecute me at all costs, even at the state’s constitutional duties, in order to eliminate me as a political leader”.

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