TODAY President Jacob Zuma will find out whether the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) must charge him or whether he will be allowed to make new representations about more than 700 charges of corruption.
The judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein today will have a profound impact on the outgoing ANC president and end a process that has lasted eight years and cost an estimated R30m.
Initially, Zuma’s legal team had approached the SCA seeking permission for leave to appeal an earlier decision by the High Court in Pretoria that 783 corruption charges against the president be reinstated. But in the appeals court, Zuma’s lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, sprung one of the biggest legal surprises of the year when he said he believed the NPA unde Mokotedi Mpshe had made a mistake in 2009 when it decided not to prosecute Zuma.
That decision opened the door to the South African presidency for Zuma. Kemp told the stunned judges he accepted that that decision was irrational and could not stand. He said his client wanted the chance to make fresh representations before the NPA decided to recharge him.
The NPA’s lawyer, advocate Hilton Epstein SC, also held this view. He asked the court to rule that the decision to prosecute be referred back to NPA head Shaun Abrahams to reconsider. Epstein argued that former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy had politically interfered in the process by delaying the serving of the indictment because he wanted Thabo Mbeki to be re-elected ANC president.
Meanwhile, the DA, which said it had spent about R10m in fighting to ensure that Zuma got his day in court, has said the president would try to drag out the matter even further. “It’s actually very simple. Instead of ducking and diving, Zuma should let a trial court decide on his innocence.
If he is innocent, as he claims, let him have his day in court and let the court clear him. His actions over the last decade smack of a desperate attempt to avoid this eventuality. These are the actions of a man who knows he has a lot to answer for,” DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said.