Zuma to receive high court's blessing

The top leadership of the ANC and its alliance partners would accompany party president Jacob Zuma as the final curtain is drawn over his legal battle with the NPA at the High Court in Durban.

Alliance bigwigs such as ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe, Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande were expected to attend court on Tuesday morning, with Zuma.

Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Zet Luzipho said Vavi also confirmed he would accompany Zuma to court.

“Vavi will be here before 10, the SACP general secretary [Nzimande] is also expected to come,” he said.

By 9am people wearing ANC T-Shirts were still gathering outside the court as police looked on.

KwaZulu-Natal police on Tuesday closed off one of Durban’s main roads ahead of the high court appearance. The court was expected to endorse the decision taken by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to have the charges against Zuma officially dropped.

The ANC’s presidential candidate was expected to appear at 10am and then hold a media briefing at the Hilton Hotel.

Court of public opinion
The ruling tripartite alliance hailed the NPA’s decision on Monday.

“Zuma endured an ordeal never experienced by any other citizen,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

“For eight long years he was subjected to trial by the media and in the court of public opinion,” he said, speaking at a press briefing at Luthuli House in Johannesburg along with leaders of the ANC’s alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.

The NPA announced on Monday that 16 charges, related in part to the arms deal, would be dropped after Zuma’s attorney’s provided evidence of the political “conspiracy” against the president-in-waiting.

Mantashe said there were “good reasons” why the Zuma prosecution had to end: “Comrade Zuma has suffered undue prejudicial delay
which renders a fair trial impossible.”

“The nature or remedy for a breach of the reasonable time or access to court provision is a permanent stay.”

Responding to a question on whether there remained a cloud of suspicion over Zuma as the corruption charges against him were never tested in a court of law, ANC policy head Jeff Radebe said the allegations were “no longer on the table”.

“South Africa is a Constitutional democracy, it doesn’t matter what the grounds are but the decision of the NPA is that the charges against the president of the ANC have been dropped.

“There is no intention, it is not possible, or even desirable, to charge the president of the ANC.
In other words whatever we have read, the allegations, those in the eyes of the law are no longer on the table,” he said.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said the charges against Zuma were not dropped on a “technicality”.

“It was a violation and abuse of state institutions, it is not a technicality, it’s a very serious matter,” Nzimande said.

Mantashe said there were no longer allegations against Zuma as they were withdrawn by the people who laid charges, the National
Prosecuting Authority.

Mantashe said the only consequence for South Africa was that it would be beneficial for the country’s stability as a sitting president would not have corruption charges hanging over his head.

“We will have a sitting president with no hanging charges or hanging allegations. It will translate in a more stable society and therefore a more stable society is conducive for economic growth and stability,” Mantashe said.

Meanwhile, Zuma kept far from the public eye on Monday, staying at his Forest Town home as the party leadership tackled the afternoon press briefing and celebrated with ANC supporters at Mary Fitzgerald Square and outside Luthuli House.

An insider at his home described him as “emotional”.

ANC national executive committee member and Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said while she had not seen Zuma since the announcement, she was sure he would make his feelings known soon enough.

“I think it will be in the interests of the country if he makes his feelings felt and known but we can only hope that he’s holding out. I think the ANC has been extremely supportive.”

The ANC said it would await the outcome of the judicial commission of enquiry into the entire matter, which NPA acting head Mokotedi Mpshe referred to when announcing the decision on Monday morning.

“We support the judicial commission of enquiry as alluded to by the NPA. we can only react after that process has taken its course,” he said.

Nzimande said he hoped that this judicial process would reveal whether former president Thabo Mbeki was part of the alleged “conspiracy” against Zuma, as it was “clearly done” for his benefit, to thwart Zuma’s ascendance to the presidency.

“Irrespective of the standing of the person or the people who may be involved ... the process going forward must be done without fear or favour or prejudice,” Nzimande said.

‘JZ is not her garden boy’
Meanwhile, more than 2 000 ANC supporters braved rainy weather in Durban on Monday evening to celebrate.

A motorcade was used to mobilise people to gather at Durban’s Curries Fountain Stadium. The rain did not dampen the spirits of jubilant supporters, who sang and danced.

They were addressed by a number of provincial leaders including ANC provincial deputy chairperson Willis Mchunu and Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipho.

Luzipho demanded that Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille not challenge the NPA decision.

“Zille must stop thinking that JZ is her garden boy. She must leave Zuma alone.”

Zille will on Tuesday file an application in the North Gauteng High Court for a judicial review of the NPA’s decision.

Yolanda Young, ANC national executive member, said there was a need for a major clean up of the justice system, saying it was full of people who abused their positions.

She also called on Archbishop Desmond Tutu to apologise to Zuma for saying he did not want Zuma to be president. - Sapa

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