Court bid to block NPA head’s decision on Zuma
Lobby group the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) wants the Constitutional Court to interdict National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams from announcing his decision on whether former president Jacob Zuma will face graft charges.
The council is seeking to have the announcement stayed until the court hands down judgment on whether Abrahams still has his job.
"In the light of that finding, if Mr Abrahams takes a decision on whether or not Mr Zuma will face prosecution, there will be reasonable perceptions that his decision was biased," Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said in an affidavit submitted to the court. "That will be true no matter what decision Mr Abrahams takes."
In 2017, the High Court in Pretoria set aside Abrahams’s appointment. It also found at the time that Zuma, who was then president, was too conflicted to appoint a new national director of public prosecutions.
Two days before the confirmation hearing regarding Abrahams’s job at the Constitutional Court, Abrahams had written to Casac saying he was ready to make an announcement on whether Zuma should be prosecuted. He had also asked the council if it would waive the two-week notice period he had undertaken to give Casac before issuing his announcement.
Unless the Constitutional Court grants Casac’s latest application for an interdict, Abrahams can make the announcement on charging Zuma after March 15.
In his affidavit, Naidoo said Casac had repeatedly asked Abrahams for a "reasonable undertaking" that he would not announce a decision before the court made a ruling on his job. This request was repeated during the hearing last week.
"Mr Abrahams has refused," Naidoo said. "He has only given an undertaking he will afford Casac two weeks’ notice before he announces a decision."
If the court does grant the Casac interdict then Abrahams will have to wait until after the same court hands down judgment regarding his job.
Naidoo said it was because of the NPA head’s "obstructive attitude" that Casac had no option but to bring this application.
Casac had asked the court to deal with its request for an interdict before March 15.
Naidoo said the purpose of the application was to protect the independence of the NPA and the integrity of the court’s process. If the court upheld the high court ruling on Abrahams’s job and he had already announced a decision, it would almost certainly provide a basis for the decision to be reviewed, he said.