/ 17 September 2008

NPA to reveal intentions for Zuma

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will reveal on Wednesday whether it intends appealing against last week’s court ruling that led to the setting aside of corruption charges against African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma.

”It will happen today,” said NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali after the authority spent the past few days examining Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson’s 25 000-word judgement.

Nicholson found that in terms of the law, Zuma should have been allowed to make representations to the NPA when it decided to make an about-turn on a previous public statement that he would not be charged.

Zuma had faced 16 charges, including racketeering, corruption and fraud, while French arms company Thint faced charges of racketeering, corruption and money laundering.

Tlali said he would only comment on whether the Thint charges still stood after issuing the statement on how the NPA would proceed with Zuma’s case.

In his judgement, Nicholson said that once the procedural problem had been remedied, the NPA was free to recharge Zuma if it wanted to do so.

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

He criticised the close relationship between the justice ministry and the NPA, which he said was supposed to make completely independent prosecutorial decisions.

The charges against Zuma related to a bribe he had allegedly received from his financial adviser Schabir Shaik in return for protecting the arms company during a probe into irregularities into the multimillion-rand arms deal.

When Shaik was about to be charged, the NPA publicly said it had enough evidence to charge Zuma too, but that the case was ”not winnable”.

Nicholson said not charging Zuma was ”bizarre” in a bilateral crime.

After Shaik’s conviction, Zuma was fired as deputy president of the country.

Zuma’s case was struck off the roll in 2006 because the state was not ready to proceed. He was recharged in December 2007 days after being elected president of the ruling party. — Sapa