Crunch time has come for President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority – today the NPA must say whether it will appeal the Pretoria High Court ruling in the spy tapes saga.
The court ruled on April 29 that the decision by the NPA to drop the charges against Zuma in April 2009 was irrational.
Yesterday City Press, quoting several unnamed sources, said the NPA would appeal the judgment.
The sources – four senior prosecutors – reportedly said the decision to appeal was made before judgment was handed down.
Advocate Paul Hoffman, a director of Accountability Now, said that this was a test of the credibility of the head of the NPA, Shaun Abrahams.
“I think it is unlikely that he will take the matter on appeal because he does not need to,” said Hoffman.
“He should let the president appeal. An independent, impartial, without fear, favour and prejudice approach of a well-advised national director of public prosecution should say: ‘My hands are tied; I cannot do anything with this until the Zuma appeal is finalised.’ In that way he would be more strategic and will be seen to be adopting an even-handed approach.”
NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku dismissed the speculation yesterday.
“How do we know he [Abrahams] is going to appeal? We cannot pre-empt the process,” Mfaku said.
The DA’s seven-year battle culminated in the high court finding last month that Zuma should face the 783 corruption charges.
Then acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe, in dropping the charges, had cited political interference. He said this was based on transcripts of an intercepted telephone conversation between the then head of the now-defunct Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy, and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka.
DA chairman James Selfe yesterday said it was likely that Abrahams would appeal.
“We strongly imagine that Abrahams is going to appeal because I do not think he has any other option,” said Selfe.
“I think it is going to be difficult for him because to appeal you have to seek leave to appeal. You have to persuade the court that another court could come to a different conclusion. [His] problem is that the judgment was not by a single judge; this was a unanimous decision of the full bench of the [Pretoria] High Court.”
Selfe said the appeal was the NPA and Zuma’s strategy to drag the matter out indefinitely.
He said if the appeal dragged on “endlessly” the DA would ask the court to hold Zuma personally liable for the legal costs. He said the ANC might want to change the constitution to protect a retired or sitting president from prosecution, but that would be very difficult.
He said it would require the approval of two-thirds of the members of parliament.
“There have been occasions when the ANC has been unable to get a simple majority. I think it wishes it had the two-thirds majority.”
But Hoffman said: “I do not think the ANC will change the constitution. The ANC has never intervened in this process and it is unlikely to do so.”
Source: Times Live