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09 Jan 2009 12:52
It would be “logical” for African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma to seek a deal with prosecutors if he faced graft charges again, the ruling party said on Friday.
ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus said a “legal solution” needed to be found, if possible, before the general elections later this year.
“It has always been logical that there can be negotiations between Mr Zuma’s lawyers and the NPA [National Prosecution Authority] on the legal matters,” said Niehaus.
“We believe very strongly that a legal solution should be found on the understanding that this case has been dragging on for so long; that Mr Zuma had been tried by the media.
“It has really reached the point that there is no likelihood of a fair and unbiased trial taking place and that this whole matter should now, in a legal way, be brought to a conclusion.”
But Zuma’s lawyers’ next move all depends on the outcome of an appeal currently before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
A bench of five judges will rule on Monday in an appeal lodged by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) against a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling handed down last September.
Judge Chris Nicholson ruled that the NDPP should have afforded Zuma the opportunity to make representations before it decided to re-charge him in December 2007.
This judgment effectively halted the corruption prosecution against Zuma.
If the court finds in his favour on Monday, Zuma, the ANC’s presidential candidate, remains a free man and his lawyers will then probably request a permanent stay of prosecution.
If it finds in favour of the NDPP, it means the decision to re-charge him stands.
Another aspect of Nicholson’s ruling is also under appeal. It is his finding that he could not exclude the possibility of political meddling in the decision to re-charge Zuma, a statement which ultimately led to the axing of president Thabo Mbeki.—Sapa
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