President Jacob Zuma's lengthy fight to block the release of the so-called 'spy tapes' suggests a cover-up, says opposition leader Helen Zille.
Zuma’s protracted legal attempts to prevent the release of the so-called spy tapes to the Democratic Alliance (DA) points to a cover-up, Zille said in her weekly newsletter on Monday.
She questioned why Zuma’s lawyer fought the release of the material to the DA, before conceding on Friday in the Supreme Court of Appeal that he could not make an argument for keeping it from the party.
“As we reach this important milestone, it must be asked: if there was no reason to withhold this material, why did advocate [Kemp J] Kemp drag the matter through six court hearings over five years and block us at every turn? There can only be one answer: there is a lot to hide,” said Zille.
She said once the DA had better insight into the recordings and other records that led to the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) decision in 2008 to drop corruption charges against Zuma, it would decide whether to pursue a review of the decision on the basis that it was politically motivated.
“We will be much closer to determining whether the decision to withdraw the charges was legally ‘rational’ or whether it could have been politically motivated, in which case we will proceed to seek a high court review.”
The appeal court has given the DA and Zuma’s advocate, Kemp, until Friday afternoon to see if they can agree on who to mandate to review the NPA’s internal minutes on the corruption case against the president for release to the party.
The actual review case has been held up by the DA’s battle to secure insight into recordings of phone conversations, which acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe cited as the reason for withdrawing the charges.
Mpshe said they pointed to political interference in the case. This was challenged earlier this month by former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego, who said he failed to understand how Mpshe could have reached that conclusion.
“I listened to all the tapes ... I was shocked because I could not reconcile what he was saying with what I knew,” he told the Sunday Times.
Zille said this raised questions as to whether the tapes that prompted the decision to drop charges against Zuma were genuine, and Kemp’s climb-down meant these would soon be answered.
“And now, over five years (and six court applications) after the tapes were used as the reason to drop the charges against Zuma and pave the way for him to become president, we are a significant step closer to having those questions answered,” she said.
“This is, quite simply, the most important review case in the 20-year history of our democracy.” – Sapa.