DA leader Mmusi Maimane says his party will pursue corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma even if he were to leave office.
Speaking to the media shortly after his party won a high court bid for a review of the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma, Maimane said the judgment vindicated the DA.
This came after a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court ruled that former NPA head Mpshe’s decision to withdraw 783 corruption, fraud and racketeering charges against Zuma in April 2009 was irrational.
The charges related to the multi-billion rand Arms Procurement Process or the so-called Arms Deal.
“They can appeal if they want. We will take him to whatever court we like. We will fight him all the way through because the principle of the rule of law still stands,” Maimane said outside the North Gauteng High Court.
Asked whether the official position would still pursue the charges even if Zuma were to resign as the country’s president, Maimane replied: “Jacob Zuma will face the full might of the law.”
Delivering the judgment on behalf of the full bench, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said: “The decision… to discontinue the charges against Mr Zuma is irrational and should be reviewed.”
The court decision effectively means corruption charges could be reinstated against Zuma, a move that would bolster calls for his removal from office after he violated the constitution.
Judge Ledwaba said the ultimate decision to drop the charges lied with the court, not with Mpshe.
The court found that Mpshe had acted “alone, impulsively” and under pressure when he dropped the charges.
Mpshe had cited abuse of prosecutorial processes and political interference as the reasons.
Judge Ledwaba said Mpshe had acted under pressure from Zuma’s legal representatives on the eve of the president’s inauguration in May 2009.
“We found that Mpshe found himself under pressure and made an irrational decision not to charge Zuma,” Judge Ledwaba said.
Mpshe had dropped the charges against Zuma after the emergence of the so-called spy tapes.
These are audio recordings of tapped phone calls between former Gauteng NPA head Leonard McCarthy and various cabinet ministers and senior government officials during former president Thabo Mbeki’s rule.
In the recordings, senior NPA officials and cabinet ministers could be heard discussing the case against Zuma and the timing of the charges there of.
Mpshe had argued that McCarthy and other NPA officials had abused prosecutorial processes and compromised the case in the process.
The EFF, UDM and IFP welcomed the ruling, adding it was further proof that Zuma was unfit for office.
Describing the ruling as a victory against political manipulation of the NPA, they called on the prosecuting authority to reinstate charges against Zuma as soon as possible.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Zuma was “a danger to society”. “There is no difference between Jacob Zuma and the thousands of criminal suspects and accused persons, some of whom are behind bars awaiting trial,” Ndlozi said.
He also called on the General Bar of the Council and the Judicial Service Commission to take action to ensure Mpshe was removed from office or struck off the roll.
The Presidency said there was no pending litigation against Zuma because charges against him were formally withdrawn by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg in April 2009.
“As a party to the proceedings, the President has noted the decision of the court and will give consideration to the judgement and its consequences and the remedies available in terms of our law,” Zuma spokesperson Bongani Majola said.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “It is not important to note that that the court did not deal with the merits of any allegations against President Zuma nor did it make any finding declaring guilt on any matter against President Zuma”.