You can't prosecute me: Zuma

Prosecuting President Jacob Zuma during the World Cup will cause "untold embarrassment" to South Africa, his legal team has argued in court papers.

Zuma is also arguing that, as the president, he is "not susceptible to criminal prosecution" - but that this contention is not based on any "personal claim to special and favoured treatment".

The matter of the criminal charges Zuma faced before he came to power in May last year is still hanging over his head because the DA has brought an application to review the decision to drop Zuma's prosecution on fraud and corruption charges.

The DA filed an application in the High Court in Pretoria yesterday to force the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to explain its "irrational and arbitrary decision" not to prosecute Zuma.

He is trying to quash the review of the criminal charges against him and has warned in heads of argument filed in the Pretoria High Court that "the criminal prosecution of the president carries with it certain impracticalities".

In written heads of argument, Zuma's lawyer, Kemp J Kemp, said: "The imposition of a criminal sentence of imprisonment would make it impossible for the president to carry out his constitutional duties. The stigma and opprobium during the process of the trial would not only hamper a president's ability to execute his duties but would affect public and foreign relations both domestically and internationally.

"The embarrassment to this country, particularly during the World Cup soccer, will be untold."

Kemp also pointed out that "the incumbent of the Presidential Office is not, whilst in office, susceptible to criminal prosecution".

"This contention does not rest on any arrogance of office or any perceived elevation above the law and its processes or on any individual or personal claim to special and favoured treatment."

In joining the NPA in opposing the DA's application, the president submitted that his criminal prosecution would be impractical and hamper him in carrying out his duties.

Zuma also opposed an application by Richard Young and his company CCII, a contractor in the defence industry, to intervene in the main application.

He described the CCII as "mere busybodies meddling in affairs which do not concern them".

More than a year after launching an urgent court application to have the decision set aside, the DA argued that it first needed access to the materials on which the decision was based.

The NPA and Zuma have asked the court not only to deny the DA access to the decision-making record, but also to dismiss the review application.

Both maintained that even a reduced record, which excluded "confidential" submissions made by Zuma, would infringe on Zuma's dignity and privacy and that of a number of other people.

DA counsel Sean Rosenberg SC argued that the decision not to prosecute Zuma appeared to be "fundamentally illogical and irrational", especially as it appeared that Zuma had a "damning case" to answer.

He argued that the decision not to prosecute Zuma appeared to have been based solely on the basis of "the McCarthy shenanigans", which he said had no relation to the merits of the prosecution. He was referring to the phone calls between former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, allegedly colluding to charge Zuma again after the ANC's Polokwane conference in 2007. - Sapa


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