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Mark John, Yuri Kulikov12 Jan 2009 07:56
The National Prosecuting Authority is no longer set on prosecuting African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma, a media report said on Monday.
Business Day said it appeared that the NPA and Zuma’s legal team appear keen to settle the matter out of court.
The Supreme Court of Appeal will decide this morning whether to reopen a corruption case against Zuma, after an appeal by prosecutors against the dismissal of charges.
Reopening of the case could damage Zuma’s image and it would almost certainly overlap with his campaign for the presidency in a general election expected in March or April.
It would be unlikely to stop him being elected but could add to political uncertainty.
High Court judge Chris Nicholson dismissed bribery, fraud and other charges against Zuma in September and suggested there was high-level political involvement in his prosecution.
The prosecution of Zuma has divided the ANC and led to the removal of former president Thabo Mbeki, who was accused of interfering in the case, an allegation he denied.
Prosecutors appealed against the dismissal of the charges against Zuma. Whatever the ruling on Monday, either side could still appeal against it to a higher court.
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a newspaper interview last week that the ANC would stick by Zuma and that the ANC leader remained the party’s candidate for the presidency.
The ANC said recently that it would be “logical” for Zuma to seek a deal with prosecutors if he faced graft charges again.
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 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 SCA.
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 judgement effectively halted the corruption prosecution against Zuma.
Zuma is not expected to attend court on Monday.
Niehaus said it was understood that the judgement would not take long and that it “did not make sense” for Zuma to attend.
He said he did not expect many Zuma supporters, who often wait in crowds outside his court appearances, to go to court on Monday.
“They go to see Mr Zuma, so if he is not there, it is unlikely that they will be there,” said Niehaus.
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