The DA has called on President Jacob Zuma to "do the honourable thing" and take leave from his office until all allegations have been dealt with.
The Mail & Guardian on Friday published the key findings of a confidential forensic report prepared for Zuma’s corruption trial by auditors KPMG.
The report, which runs to almost 500 pages, shows that Zuma received millions of rands worth of payments from a host of benefactors, including convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, former president Nelson Mandela, and Durban mogul Vivian Reddy.
The report, which dates back to 2006, was kept hidden when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) abandoned its prosecution of Zuma.
The DA’s federal chairperson James Selfe said in a statement on Friday that the revelations justify the need to review the decision to drop corruption charges against the President.
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The NPA controversially dropped charges of corruption against Zuma in 2009, just a month before he was elected president.
The DA has taken legal steps to secure documents, including the so-called "spy tapes”, that could shed light on how the NPA came to that decision. Despite court backing it has so far been unsuccessful.
“The DA has been waiting since March this year for the record of decision which led to the corruption charges being dropped. Both the National Prosecuting Authority and Zuma’s legal team have used every delaying tactic in the book to ensure that we do not obtain this record,” he said.
Selfe said there now appears to be sufficient grounds to establish that the decision to drop charges against Zuma was “both irrational and unlawful” and that the DA believes it would be “quite possibly justified” in going directly to court to review the decision without having to wait for the record.
“Subject to the advice of our advocates, this is exactly what we propose to do,” he said. “The full story will come out eventually, but until then Zuma must take a leave of absence from his office until these allegations have been proved or discounted,” he said.
The M&G has invited comment from those implicated by the report itself and will publish these on the website immediately. It will also publish in print and online detailed responses from Zuma and others identified in its reporting if they are forthcoming.
Press code freedom
Comment was not sought in advance of publication over concerns that there might be an attempt to suppress the information.
M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes has defended this decision, saying that the press code provides room to do so. The press code states that “a publication should seek the views of the subject of serious critical reportage in advance of publication, provided that this need not be done where the publication has reasonable grounds for believing that by doing so it would be prevented from publishing the report, or where evidence might be destroyed or sources intimidated".
“In this case we have decided instead to offer full right of reply after publication, because it has been our own experience - and that of other newspapers - in dealing with material emanating from the arms deal investigation that an opportunity to comment is treated by the state as an opportunity to prevent publication,” he wrote.
Zuma is currently in Tanzania for a SADC summit and is expected to return to South Africa on Sunday. His spokesperson Mac Maharaj said he could not comment on the report at this stage. “I have noted the report. I need to read the report and process it fully,” he said.
Should you be implicated in the report, you are extended a right-to-reply. Please email: email@example.com