Zuma vs DA court rematch over corruption charges

2016-02-29 15:00
President Jacob Zuma. (File, City Press)

President Jacob Zuma. (File, City Press)

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Cape Town - A Democratic Alliance’s application to review the dropping of the corruption case against President Jacob Zuma will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

''Never has it been more relevant. Never has it been more urgent,'' said James Selfe, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance's federal executive.

The party wanted the full bench of the court to decide whether former National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe's April 2009 announcement that the charges against Zuma were being withdrawn was a sound legal decision, or whether it was based on politics.

The DA believed the decision was ''inherently irrational''. 

''What we are asking for is for the decision to discontinue prosecution to be declared irrational and set aside,'' he said.

The National Prosecuting Authority would then have to decide whether to reinstate the charges.

Zuma was initially accused of accepting a bribe from French arms manufacturer Thint while South Africa was considering a multi-billion rand arms deal. The bribe was allegedly facilitated via his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

In June 2005, Durban High Court Judge Hilary Squires found Shaik guilty on two counts of corruption and one of fraud.

The expected court case against Zuma after that judgment never got off the ground. In September 2008, Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson dismissed criminal charges against Zuma, citing a political conspiracy to influence the case by former president Thabo Mbeki and others.

Decision overturned, then appealed

Nicholson's decision was taken to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and overturned. Zuma appealed this to the Constitutional Court and set in motion a direct approach to the NPA to make written and oral representations on why the case should be dropped.

Explaining the NPA's decision to drop the charges on 6 April 2009, Mpshe cited the so-called “spy tapes”. They are recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka, and apparently show political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.  

The charges were withdrawn the next day, on 7 April 2009, in the Durban High Court. This paved the way for Zuma to become president after the 22 April elections. The DA then started its lengthy campaign to get more information on why this happened.

Selfe said it was important to establish whether the NPA took decisions rationally, or if it went by political agendas.

Although drawn out, the case was still within the 20-year limit to prosecute.

Four-year battle

Selfe said it had taken more than four years and six court appearances for the ''spy tapes'' and the record of decision to be handed to them. The party had had to wait more than a year for a court date.

''The NPA made it clear that it was determined to advance Zuma's narrative that there was a conspiracy,'' said former NPA prosecutor, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach.

Zuma was elected ANC president at the party’s Polokwane conference in December 2007. At the time he was in a tussle for the top spot with Mbeki.

Mbeki had been accused of plotting against Zuma and resigned as president of the country in September 2008. The battle saw veteran ANC members leave the party to form the breakaway Congress of the People.

Two of Zuma's most vociferous supporters at the time – then ANCYL leader Julius Malema and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said they would die for him. Both had since changed their minds.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  corruption  |  zuma spy tapes

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