Former President Jacob Zuma will not be in court on Tuesday when his corruption case returns to Pietermaritzburg but Zuma has expressed his disappointment through a statement issued by his foundation on Sunday in which he said he “is more than ready for the commencement of the Arms Deal trial”.
The foundation said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) together with the media has accused Zuma of applying delaying tactics. “Yet, it is the NPA that is not ready to proceed when President Zuma calls upon it to present its case against him. The silence of the media in this regard is deafening.”
The Foundation said it was disappointed with the manner in which the “NPA seemed to have its way in our courts and our courts seem impotent to reign in the NPA”.
“This is so because there seems to be a different jurisprudence applied by our courts when it comes to President Zuma. Ordinarily, our courts should remove the matter from the roll until the NPA and Thales have finalized their dispute. However, it appears that such a call would be a waste of time as our courts would never decide in a manner that would be perceived as ’being soft on Zuma’.
“The Foundation calls upon the NPA and our courts to treat President Zuma like any citizen and any litigant. The Foundation calls upon the NPA to immediately commence with the trial as it always stated that it was ready to try President Zuma.”
The long-running corruption case has its roots in the multi-billion state arms procurement of the late 90s.
During the procurement, the state alleges that Zuma pocketed bribes from French arms company, Thales. As a result, it charged him together with French arms company Thales with corruption and racketeering.
But in the last appearance in June this year, Thales threw a spanner in the works of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) when it announced that it has lodged a court challenge to have the racketeering charges against it set aside.
That effectively forced the matter to be postponed until a court rules on the challenge.
Since a postponement is expected on Tuesday, parties apparently agreed that there is no need for Zuma to be in court.
Zuma’s instructing attorney, Eric Mabuza told Independent Media on Sunday that it was a mutual agreement by all parties involved in the trial.
“The (former) President won’t be in court, neither will we be in court… The parties agreed to postpone,” Mabuza said.
However, the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Advocate Elaine Zungu said: “The matter is set down for Tuesday 8 September (2020). Any changes thereto will be communicated accordingly.”
As the matter drags on, Mabuza insisted that they are ready to start their defence on behalf of Zuma.
“We have always said we are ready to start the trial. It is the State that is clearly not ready,” Mabuza said.
Durban Bishop and senior ANC politician, Vusi Dube said unlike in the past, no supporters would attend the trial