‘Accountability starts now’: Politicians welcome charges against Zuma

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Ian Carbutt
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Ian Carbutt

The fact that charges will be reinstated against former president Jacob Zuma was welcomed across the political spectrum.

The National Prosecuting Authority head, Shaun Abrahams, announced on Friday that Zuma would be prosecuted on 16 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

The charges related to 783 questionable payments Zuma allegedly received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.

“I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma,” Abrahams said.

The charges had been dropped by former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe in 2009, based on the recordings of the so-called “spy tapes”, which were presented to him by Zuma’s legal team.

The Democratic Alliance, which has been trying to get the matter to court for nine years, welcomed the decision.

“This is a victory for all who have fought for years for Jacob Zuma to face accountability for his crimes. That accountability starts now,” the party’s leader Mmusi Maimane said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party also welcomed the decision but said that the decision to prosecute Jacob Zuma only now, was in itself “a damming indictment on the state of capture of the NPA under the Zuma presidency”.

The IFP’s chief whip in Parliament, Narend Singh, said the party had always contended that Jacob Zuma must have his day in court.

“The IFP views in a very serious light the obstruction that has been encountered particularly at the hand of NPA, who should have been above and beyond reproach in prosecuting criminal activity without fear, favour or prejudice,” he said.

The ANC called on South Africans to “afford the NPA space to conduct its work unhindered”, and maintained that Zuma must be “presumed innocent until and if proven guilty”.

The Congress of the People’s deputy president Willie Madisha said the reinstating of charges had “brought to an end a despicable and sorry period in our post-apartheid era”.

He said it was “unconscionable” that the ANC “sought it fit to subject our country and its people to such a discredited individual.

The damage inflicted by this corruptible and corrupted person becomes more evident and damning with each passing day,” he said in a strongly worded statement.

Madisha added that South Africans must take note of:

• How various national directors of public prosecutions and the NPA itself conspired with Zuma to drop his prosecution despite the damming judgment against Schabir Shaik;

• How the NPA and then President Zuma conspired and adopted lawfare-like Stalingrad tactics to avoid the release the spy tapes upon which the decision to drop the charges was based;

• How the NPA and then President Zuma conspired and abused every avenue to avoid and delay the re-instatement of the charges; and

• How the ANC allowed Zuma to decimate and practically destroy the careers of certain directors of public prosecutions and the independence of the NPA in abusing his office and powers to avoid his day in court.

While ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said that the party had confidence in the NPA, Madisha believed it was “a moot point” that the decision to prosecute Zuma was only being made following his removal from office.

“It points to an NPA unable to act independently and without fear or favour.”

He also believed that it would take time and effort to “rebuild the integrity of and South Africans’ trust in the NPA and the criminal justice system”.

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