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Johannesburg - The court ruling compelling the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to release the controversial spy tapes into President Jacob Zuma’s alleged corruption could plunge the country into “constitutional, political and moral crisis”, analysts have warned.
On Friday, Judge Rammaka Mathopo of the Pretoria High Court ordered the NPA to comply with last year’s judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal and hand over the electronic version of the transcripts of the tapes within five days.
The tapes are recordings of conversations between the head of the now-defunct the Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy, and former national director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka.
In 2009, the former acting head of the NPA, Mokotedi Mpshe, used the tapes as the basis for dropping about 700 charges – ranging from corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering – against Zuma.
Handing over the tapes would pave the way for the DA to launch a judicial review of Mpshe’s decision.
DA leader Helen Zille said on Sunday that the ruling showed no one was above the law.
“The outcome of the case will “determine whether the politically powerful… can manipulate the institutions of democracy for their own interests or whether the (courts) have the strength and independence to hold us, even the president, to account.”
As the DA celebrated its court victory, political analysts warned that the ruling had far-reaching implications for Zuma as he might, in all likelihood, face prosecution.
The director at the Institute for Accountability, Paul Hoffman, said Friday’s ruling indicated that the decision to drop charges against Zuma was “compromised and contaminated”.
“There’s no excuse not to prosecute. It’s not practically feasible for Jacob Zuma to be the head of the executive and to continue running the country from the dock of a criminal trial while facing about 700 charges. The trouble about pleading not guilty is that it will take a considerable time attending court.”
Should a review be granted, Hoffman said Zuma might have difficulty proving his innocence as his alleged corrupter, Schabir Shaik, had already been convicted.
“All the judges from the high court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court were satisfied when he was convicted. The findings against the man who was accused of corrupting him will be troublesome for those defending Zuma.”
It was not clear if the NPA intended to appeal against the ruling, but its spokeswoman, Bulelwa Makeke, was quoted as saying that she would know this week if they would.
Zille said that the DA expected Zuma’s lawyers to find “yet another way to drag this case… for another decade”.
Political analyst Lesiba Teffo said the ruling seemed to show that Mpshe had succumbed to political pressure when he dropped the charges.
“If there should be a basis for review and the court found that Zuma should answer in court, then we may face a constitutional, political and moral crisis.”
Teffo said the ANC, Zuma and his government had “suffered in the court of public opinion” by trying to fight against the release of the tapes.