Phosa challenges NPA over Zuma

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has not behaved properly in its bid to prosecute presidential frontrunner Jacob Zuma, African National Congress (ANC) treasurer general Mathews Phosa said on Tuesday.

“Inasmuch as any defendant in a criminal case has the right to have a case against him proven without reasonable doubt, there should, in addition, be no doubt whatsoever that the NPA, at all times, act within the letter and spirit of the relevant Acts and the Constitution.

“In this case, one will have great difficulty to come that conclusion without nagging doubts,” Phosa said in a statement in response to a front-page Sunday Times editorial calling for Zuma to face trial.

Phosa accused the weekly of casting aside the legal principle that any person is innocent until proven guilty, before calling on the NPA to declare publicly that it had been impartial in its pursuit of Zuma.

“The point of departure of the article seems to be that ANC president Jacob Zuma is guilty until he proves himself innocent,” Phosa wrote.

He added that Zuma was accused of dodging justice for exercising his constitutional rights in appealing decisions and making representations to the NPA.

“It boggles the mind that while it seems acceptable for the NPA to change its mind and exhaust all their possible legal remedies, it is portrayed as an offence by Zuma to do exactly the same.”

He reminded the NPA that section 179(5) of the Constitution obliged it to execute its duties “without favour, fear or prejudice” and challenged it to declare that its seven-year-long bid to bring Zuma to court on corruption charges was not prompted by political interference.

“In a matter of such national and international importance, it is of the utmost importance that the NPA acts in such a way that its actions are above reproach ...

“It would be helpful if, in such an atmosphere, the NPA could state clearly and publicly that there has never been any discussions or communications between political office bearers and its senior officials that could be construed as outside the confines of 179(5).”

The NPA is expected to announce by the end of the month whether it will proceed with plans to charge Zuma on counts of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering linked to the arms deal.

It has denied press reports that it has decided to drop the case following representations by Zuma alleging political meddling and implicating other senior figures.—Sapa

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