Zuma's days in court far from over

2017-12-11 22:10
President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma. (GCIS)

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Cape Town – Last Friday the court case relating to President Jacob Zuma's removal of Mxolisi Nxasana as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) concluded, finding against Zuma, but that does not mean that the presidential schedule has been cleared of court proceedings and legal wrangling.

Zuma has already indicated that he will appeal Friday's ruling, in which the court ruled that Advocate Shaun Abrahams must vacate his seat as NDPP, that it would not be just for Nxasana to be reinstated and that due to his pending corruption case, Zuma was conflicted in appointing an NDPP.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must appoint a new NDPP in the next 60 days.

These are the other matters still pending:

Impeachment: Judgement reserved

While President Jacob Zuma is not a respondent in this matter, his legal team will surely keep a close eye on this, as this case can have serious implications for his tenure in office.

On September 5, the Constitutional Court reserved judgment in an application brought by the EFF and other opposition parties trying to have Zuma impeached.

The parties, which also included the UDM and COPE, argued that no action had been taken against Zuma after the Constitutional Court ruling in March 2016 which found that Zuma had failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution in relation to the Public Protector's finding on his private residence in Nkandla.

They said there was prima facie evidence that Zuma should be impeached. The South African Constitution does not use the word "impeach", but section 89 of the Constitution allows the removal of the president.

The opposition parties asked for an order declaring that Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete failed to put in place all appropriate procedures and mechanisms to hold Zuma accountable following the president's failure to implement the Public Protector's recommendations on Nkandla.

Mbete's legal representation argued that the authority to institute proceedings to remove the president rests with the National Assembly and the order would be inconsistent with the principle of the separation of powers.

State Capture probe: Judgement reserved

Zuma lodged a review application in the Gauteng North High Court in October to set aside the entire report on state capture.

In October 2016, former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela in her report, State of Capture, recommended that the president appoint, within 30 days, a commission of inquiry headed by a judge selected by the Chief Justice.

Shortly before arguments were due to be heard before Judge President Mlambo and High Court judges Phillip Boruchowitz and Wendy Hughes on October 25, Zuma's legal team abandoned a crucial part of his state capture court review which asks for the State of Capture report to be sent back to the Public Protector for further investigation.

However, the main part of the case in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria – to have Madonsela's remedial actions reviewed and set aside – still stands.

Mlambo ordered all parties to file supplementary heads of argument explaining how the withdrawal would impact on the review application. Instead, Zuma's legal filed that a "just and equitable" order should be handed down by the court.

Their proposed order reads: "Having announced an intention to appoint a commission of inquiry, it is recorded that the president will proclaim a commission of inquiry within 30 days of the date of this order."

Zuma also now wants the court to set aside the recommendation in the state capture report that the Chief Justice choose a judge to head the commission, among others.

Reasons for Cabinet reshuffle: Appeal pending

On June 2 Judge Bashier Vally granted Zuma leave to appeal against a ruling that he must hand over the records explaining his controversial late-night Cabinet reshuffle in March, which saw the axing of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, among others.

At the time it was rumoured that Zuma based his decision on an "intelligence report" alleging that Gordhan was working for foreign powers.

The DA filed an urgent application on April 24 to force Zuma to disclose his reasons for reshuffling his Cabinet, and on May 4, Judge Vally ruled in favour of the application in the High Court in Pretoria.

Spy tapes: Decision to prosecute pending

After much legal wrangling spanning almost a decade, on October 13 the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) application to appeal a High Court ruling that the 2009 decision to drop corruption charges against him was irrational.

The NPA now has to decide if it will prosecute Zuma.

On Monday, Abrahams, the same NDPP the court ordered on Friday to be removed from this post, announced that he had extended Zuma's deadline to submit his fresh representations to the NPA to the end of January after the initial deadline of November 30.

The charges stem from Zuma's alleged involvement in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal.

On April 6, 2009, then NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges based on the so-called "spy tapes" presented to him by Zuma's legal team.

The spy tapes are recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, which Mpshe considered to show political interference.

The charges were withdrawn shortly before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.

Read more on:    anc  |  ndpp  |  mxolisi nxasana  |  jacob zuma  |  shaun abrahams

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