Zille: Dropping the charges against Zuma is irrational and unlawful
Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
6 April 2009
The reasons given by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for dropping the charges against Mr Jacob Zuma do not hold water. The DA is now finalising its plan to take the matter further through the legal system.
The decision to withdraw the charges does not appear to be rationally connected to the information before the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). All indications are that the NDPP has not taken a decision based in law, but that it has buckled to political pressure. Two weeks before the election, it now portrays Jacob Zuma as a wronged victim in a show trial.
Firstly, the evidence presented by the NDPP today does not change the fact that there is a strong case against Zuma. That case must go to court. The evidence presented by the NDPP, which amounts to selective quotations from transcripts of bugged telephone conversations between the former head of the Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy, and the former head of the NPA, Bulelani Ngcuka, does not affect the substantive merits of the case against Zuma. It merely points to political manipulation in the timing of the NPA's decision to re-charge Zuma. By the NPA's own admission today, it does not detract from the case itself.
This evidence must be processed through the proper legal channels. It must be examined and cross-examined in court. If the individuals whose telephone calls were recorded are guilty of criminal conduct they must be charged too.
At the moment, we have the worst of all possible worlds, with selective prosecutions depending on who holds political office.
Secondly, the NPA has acknowledged that the prosecuting team working on Zuma's case believes that the prosecution should go ahead. That is telling. The NDPP himself was previously satisfied that a prima facie case existed against Zuma with a good prospect of success in court. In accordance with the NDPP's constitutional and statutory duties, we believe the only lawful decision in these circumstances is to proceed with Zuma's prosecution.
Whether or not individuals in the NPA colluded with powerful political figures in respect of the Zuma prosecution does not change the fact that Zuma has a case to answer. As Judge Louis Harms of the Supreme Court of Appeal noted: "a prosecution is not wrongful merely because it is brought for an improper purpose. It will only be wrongful if, in addition, reasonable and probable grounds for prosecuting are absent, something not alleged by Mr Zuma and which, in any event, can only be determined once criminal proceedings have been concluded."
For all the above reasons, the DA believes the decision to drop the charges is irrational and unlawful. In the past week our legal team has been preparing the groundwork to take this matter further before the courts, should the need arise.
They are studying today's announcement closely. It is clear that the NPA is compromised in this matter. The only way that justice will prevail is if the decision to drop the charges is reviewed in open court.