Durban - Lawyers acting for President Jacob Zuma are arguing that the “spy tapes” which led to charges of corruption not being pursued against Zuma should not be made public because they were obtained by the National Prosecuting Authority as a result of confidential representations.
Former acting prosecutions head Mokotedi Mpshe dropped charges against Zuma after recordings of intercepted telephone calls by his predecessor, Bulelani Ngcuka and Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy came to light.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) said the DA was entitled to bring a legal review of the dropping of charges and ordered the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hand over the record of that decision, minus any confidential representations made by Zuma. But this has not happened because Zuma’s lawyers have stonewalled.
Now the DA has again turned to the courts and is asking the Pretoria High Court for an order of contempt of court and to compel the NPA and the presidency to hand over the documents and transcripts of the tapes.
However, Zuma’s legal team in its heads of argument asserts that the spy tapes were “confidential” because they were obtained by the NPA in response to the confidential representations Zuma made at the time when he was facing corruption charges.
Zuma’s lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, said that on April 6, 2009 Mpshe decided to withdraw the prosecution against Zuma in a publicly written statement, which detailed how Zuma had made representations, including reference to the telephone conversations and recordings that motivated the withdrawal of the charges.
His client’s argument would centre on the “proper interpretation” of the SCA ruling and the issue of the “confidentiality” of the representations (oral and written) made to Mpshe.
“The written representations and oral representations made by (Zuma) are confidential and so is all material obtained or generated in response which would tend to disclose what the contents of the representations was,” argued Kemp.
In its heads of argument, the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions said its acting head, Nomgcobo Jiba, found herself in an awkward position of having to comply with the SCA order in circumstances “not of her making”.
The DA’s legal team said it remained “unclear” whether Zuma’s legal team “persists in refusing or failing to consent to the disclosure of the transcripts”.
Last year, Zuma’s legal team had been ordered to provide the tapes within 14 days, but this deadline had expired in April.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said his party’s argument was simple.
“The court ordered the release of the tapes and they’re obliged to honour. Their argument thus far is disingenuous,” said Selfe.