/ 17 September 2008

ANC: NPA decision on Zuma ruling is ill-considered

The NPA decision to appeal against the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling on Jacob Zuma is ill-considered, the ANC said on Wednesday.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to appeal against the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling on Jacob Zuma is ill-considered, the African National Congress said on Wednesday.

”The decision suggests that personal pride, rather than reason, is driving the actions of the NPA,” the party said in a statement.

It said it respects the right of the NPA to appeal, but its latest move suggests the NPA has not taken to heart the court’s findings about its conduct.

”The decision … to appeal the ruling of the Pietermaritzburg High Court is cynical and ill-considered,” the ANC said.

”By not accepting the court’s ruling, the NPA has lost a valuable opportunity to bring the relentless pursuit of Jacob Zuma to an end.”

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson ruled last week that an NPA decision to prosecute the ANC president was invalid.

Zuma faced 16 charges, which included racketeering, corruption and fraud in a case in which French arms company Thint also faced corruption charges for allegedly bribing him for protection during an arms-deal probe.

Nicholson said there was some merit in Zuma’s contention that there was a political conspiracy tied to rivalry between himself and President Thabo Mbeki.

Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has warned of mass strikes in response to the NPA’s decision to appeal Zuma ruling

Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Zet Luzipho, said at a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday: ”The fact that NPA wants to continue this case … is a declaration of war on our people.”

He said each time the NPA takes Zuma to court, the masses will strike.

”And it won’t only be on the day of the court case, but also before he goes to court,” Luzipho said.

The NPA on Wednesday said it has studied Nicholson’s judgement declaring Zuma’s prosecution invalid, and has taken senior counsel’s advice.

”Consequently, we have decided to apply for leave to appeal against the judgement. The NPA has yet to make a decision on whether to re-charge Mr Zuma.”

Luzipho also stressed that the NPA’s decision was of ”economic interest”.

”The NPA is using taxpayers’ money and 32% of that is from the workers. This is a matter of economic interest … it’s a matter of the state versus the masses.”

The union federation on Wednesday also called for all the other charges against Zuma to be dropped, and that he be reinstated as deputy president of South Africa.

”JZ is innocent … you cannot re-establish a case to prove his innocence because his innocence has already been proven.”

He added: ”Jacob Zuma will be president of this country and the sooner [people] accept this fact the better … then we can move on.”

Luzipho further called for a judicial commission of inquiry to be established to investigate the arms deal.

ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu said top party members would meet at 4pm on Wednesday to discuss the NPA’s announcement.

”We will comment thereafter,” he said.

‘Rejected with contempt’
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday that the NPA’s decision to appeal the ruling shows it takes its duty to the public seriously.

”The DA notes the decision by the NPA to appeal the judgement in the Pietermaritzburg High Court that Jacob Zuma’s prosecution was invalid.

”If there is a prima facie case against Jacob Zuma, the NPA is legally bound to explore every legal avenue to ensure justice is done,” she said.

Judge Chris Nicholson noted in his judgement last Friday that the NPA has a duty to prosecute if it has a compelling prima facie case against the accused.

”Any suggestion that the decision to appeal is a cynical move must be rejected with contempt. On the contrary, it shows that the NPA takes its duty to the South African public seriously and that it won’t be intimidated by Zuma and his acolytes,” Zille said.

Zuma had instituted every possible appeal and delaying mechanism ”to avoid his day in court”. It is disingenuous now for the ANC to criticise the NPA for appealing this judgement.

”The Zuma camp’s jubilation has been premature. Judge Nicholson’s judgement was not a vindication or an acquittal of Jacob Zuma.

”There is a large cloud over Jacob Zuma’s head. As he has repeatedly stated, he needs to defend himself in a court of law where the evidence can be presented.

”It is therefore in the interest of all South Africans that he withdraws his candidature for the presidency until his guilt or innocence has been established in court,” Zille said.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, meanwhile, on Wednesday welcomed the NPA’s decision.

”If the NPA had backed down, it would only have looked like they had succumbed to political pressure — the very thing that Zuma’s supporters have accused them of doing in the past,” Holomisa said. — Sapa