Top judges dismiss Mbeki


South Africa's highest court has dismissed ex-president Thabo Mbeki's urgent attempt to clear his name.

Eight Constitutional Court judges have ordered that it would "not be in the interests of justice" to hear Mbeki's challenge to the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling that he claims cost him his job.

Mbeki wanted the Constitutional Court to order that Judge Chris Nicholson's inferences about him, made during the ruling that quashed ANC president Jacob Zuma's corruption prosecution, were invalid and should be set aside.

In papers filed at the Constitutional Court and served on Zuma and acting prosecuting head Mokotedi Mpshe, Mbeki stated: "It is unfair and unjust for me to be judged and condemned on the basis of the findings in the Zuma matter. The interests of justice would demand the matter be rectified."

But, pointing out that the National Prosecuting Authority was itself appealing against Judge Nicholson's ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal on November 28, Constitutional Court Deputy Judge President Dikgang Moseneke and seven other judges on Tuesday dismissed the former president's appeal application.

They were unmoved by Mbeki's recent request that his application be postponed until the NPA's appeal against Judge Nicholson's ruling was finalised, a request that Zuma countered with an appeal that the case be struck from the court's roll.

But they left the door open by saying it was not in the interests of justice for them to hear his case "at this stage".

Despite both Zuma and the NPA opposing Mbeki's application, the Constitutional Court judges declined to order Mbeki - whose bills are being footed by taxpayers - to pay the state and Zuma's legal costs.

Speaking to The Star on Tuesday night, Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga claimed ignorance of the Constitutional Court's order.

Zuma's attorney Michael Hulley, who argued under oath that Mbeki's "questionable" leadership was more responsible for his recalling as president than Judge Nicholson's inferences, had no comment on Tuesday's ruling.

NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the state's attitude towards the Mbeki application - that it could interfere with the state's own appeal - remained unchanged.

Mbeki had claimed in his appeal that Judge Nicholson's multiple "vexatious, scandalous and prejudicial" findings against him had effectively cost him his job, and damaged his good name and reputation, without the judge, or "most importantly the general public", ever hearing his side of the story.

This, Mbeki said, was a clear violation of his constitutional rights and those of former justice ministers Brigitte Mabandla and Penuell Maduna, who Judge Nicholson suggested had improperly interfered with the NPA's work.

"These adverse finding have led to my being recalled by my political party, the ANC - a request I have acceded to as a committed and loyal member of the ANC for the past 52 years, much as the untested allegations relied on by (Judge Nicholson) have already caused irreparable harm to my integrity and to the standing of the office I occupy," Mbeki said.




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