The saga continues

2008-10-25 00:00

With Judge Chris Nicholson granting the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) the right to appeal his September judgment in the Jacob Zuma case, the next phase of this saga now opens. Two points bear noting.

First, Nicholson has not reversed his judgment. Until it has been tested by a higher court, it remains unchanged. More significantly, even if the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) does come to a different ruling, it will still not be a decision on Zuma’s guilt or innocence. Nicholson’s judgment was that the case against Zuma could not go ahead because of a technical flaw in the prosecution procedure. Should the appeal judges find differently, all it means is that the prosecution can again move forward towards the actual trial.

Already frustrated by the Zuma camp’s delaying tactics, the NPA wants that appeal heard before the SCA’s year-end recess and, if it is successful, press for a trial before the general election expected around April.

Zuma’s supporters will surely do all they can to stall things further, hoping that their majority in the new Parliament will elect Zuma president and then pass legislation to protect him. But little is certain. The breakaway from the African National Congress may derail that plan or the party may opt, after all, to give the steadying Kgalema Motlanthe a full term. One certainty is that with the cracks in the ruling party and the emergence of a new opponent, the coming election campaign will be hotter than ever.

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