JOHANNESBURG – A new chapter is unfolding in the spy tapes saga.
President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to review last year’s North Gauteng High Court judgment.
The court ruled that Zuma should face charges of fraud, racketeering and corruption. It also found then-NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe‘s decision to drop charges, irrational.
“We find that Mr Mpshe found himself under pressure and he decided to discontinue the prosecution of Mr Zuma and consequently made an irrational decision,” Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba ruled in April 2016.
“Considering the situation in which he found himself, Mr Mpshe ignored the importance of the oath of office which demanded him to act independently, and without fear and favour…Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment,” Judge Ledwaba added.
The High Court later refused the President and NPA the right to appeal that ruling, but they have not given up.
They’re now trying to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and have launched a scathing attack on the ruling, maintaining the Court overstepped the mark, and should have referred the case back to the NPA.
The NPA insists it dropped Zuma’s prosecution to preserve its independence and integrity.
Both insist there was clear political interference in the timing of the President’s prosecution in 2007, aimed at thwarting his political ambitions.
They maintain then-Scorpions head, Leonard McCarthy, delayed charging Zuma until after the ANC’s Polokwane elective conference, to prevent him from being seen as a victim of his rival, Thabo Mbeki.
The NPA is also arguing that even if Mpshe was wrong in his decision to withdraw the case against Zuma, this does not make that decision irrational…and then open to being set aside.
Both Zuma and the NPA are adamant that the High Court cannot now rule that the President should be charged. They say this decision must be made by the NPA.
National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, has also repeatedly sought to assure South Africans that he is NOT a puppet – and decided to appeal the Zuma prosecution ruling on legal, not political grounds.
“I will always do what is correct, irrespective of whether the individual concerned is an ordinary citizen, a cabinet minister or a sitting President,” he said in May 2016.
“If there’s any suggestion that I may have succumbed to any pressure in making my decision, I can assure the public that is absolutely ridiculous and completely unfounded,” Abrahams declared at the time.
The date for President Zuma and the NPA’s prosecution appeal hearing has yet to be set.