Court upholds NDPP appeal in Zuma case

The Supreme Court of Appeal on Monday upheld an appeal by the National Director of Public Prosecutions against a high court ruling that halted the prosecution of ANC leader Jacob

This means that Zuma, the front-runner for the Presidency in the upcoming elections, will still have to face corruption charges.

The SCA delivered a scathing judgment against Judge Chris Nicholson on Monday, describing his finding of political meddling in the Zuma graft case as “erronous”, “unwarranted” and “incomprehensible”.

“Political meddling was not an issue that had to be determined. Nevertheless a substantial part of his judgement dealt with this question. He changed the rules of the game, he took his eyes off the ball,” said acting Deputy Judge President Louis Harms, while handing down judgement in Bloemfontein.

Harms said Nicholson’s finding that he could not exclude the possibility of political meddling in the decision to re-charge Zuma was “incomprehensible”, that he erred in his judgement and that his findings were “unwarranted”.

He said Nicholson had overstepped the limits of his duty as a judge.

His findings ultimately led to the axing of president Thabo Mbeki.

“The [findings] involving Dr [Penuell] Maduna, Mr Mbeki and all the other members of Cabinet ...
were not based on any evidence or allegations. They were instead part of the judge’s own conspiracy theory and not one advanced by Mr Zuma,” said Harms.

Harms started delivering his judgement at 10am on Monday in the appeal lodged by the National Director of Public Prosecutions against the Nicholson ruling on September 12 last year.

The Bloemfontein court must rule on mainly two aspects in the appeal.

The first is whether Zuma was entitled to make representations before the NDPP decided to re-charge him with corruption and fraud in December 2007, ten days after Zuma beat Mbeki in the ANC leadership race.

The second is whether Nicholson was correct in implying in his September 2008 judgement there was political meddling by Mbeki in the decision to charge Zuma.

The top leadership of the ANC used the judgement to recall Mbeki as president, exposing Zuma-Mbeki factionalism in the ruling party which ultimately led to the birth of a breakaway party.

Nothing to do with the guilt
The ANC said it had noted the judgement and said it was important to note that it had nothing to do with the guilt or otherwise of the ANC president.

“Nor does it make any pronouncements on the merits of the charges previously brought by the NPA,” said the party in a statement.

“The ANC respects the decision of the court without reservation. The ANC and its president reserves the right to pursue all options available in law. The ANC reiterates its position that the judgement will not affect the decision of the ANC that Zuma be the ANC’s presidential candidate for the 2009 elections.”

“The ANC will not accept that a decision democratically taken by the ANC membership at its national conference be reversed on the basis of untested allegations.”

Leon Joubert, Democratic Alliance spokesperson on justice, said: “I concur fully with Judge Harmse. In principle it is a very sound judgement.

“What will happen now is they will have to recharge Mr Zuma. It is back to square one.”

He added that the judge made some interesting points in his ruling, saying that Mr Zuma was never prevented from having his day in court.

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