Zuma makes stunning concession in appeal against corruption charges ruling
The president admits Mpshe's 2009 decision to withdraw the charges was irrational - but now wants to start the process over with Shaun Abrahams
President Jacob Zuma has conceded that the 2009 decision to have corruption charges against him dropped was irrational, saying he wants the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to make a rational one.
In an 11th-hour concession on Thursday, Kemp J Kemp representing Zuma told the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein that his client had conceded to this, but wanted the opportunity to make fresh representations before the NPA decided to recharge him.
This would put the decision on whether Zuma ultimately faces 783 counts of corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud in the hands of National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.
But Judge Mahomed Navsa said those processes were not for the SCA to decide on.
Abrahams and the NPA have been accused of protecting Zuma. For the past decade, the NPA has been seen to be politically captured. It has also been accused of bias and selective prosecution. The decision to drop the charges against Zuma was taken in April 2009 by then acting director of prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe.
The DA approached the High Court in Pretoria to have the decision declared null and void and, in April 2016, the court ruled that the prosecuting authority reinstate the charges.
Zuma and the NPA approached the SCA in a bid to appeal against this ruling.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said that, given the weight of the concessions made by Zuma and the NPA, it was inevitable that the president would face the charges.
“As we all know, the president is an expert on delaying tactics and what we would want the court to do is to lay something down about the process that needs to be followed to get Jacob Zuma to appear in a dock in a court within the next couple of months.”
Hilton Epstein, for the NPA, argued that Mpshe’s decision to drop the charges was based on the timing of the indictment being served and that there was political interference by Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy, who was a staunch supporter of former president Thabo Mbeki.
This was when Zuma was jockeying against Mbeki for the position of ANC president at the 2007 Polokwane conference.
If the SCA dismissed the application for leave to appeal and upheld the high court judgment, the NPA wants the decision of whether Zuma is charged to revert to Abrahams.
However, Judge Azhar Cachalia said it was his understanding that Abrahams would be bound by the decision of his predecessor. Zuma had already made representations, which were rejected in 2009, when the decision was taken to prosecute him. “If Mr Abrahams is concerned that he has to reapply his mind afresh, we will be here nine years later,” he said.
Judgment was reserved. NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said the concession was not an embarrassment for the institution.