Cape Town - The DA has called for Jacob Zuma to stand down as president until he can clear his name, after massively damaging allegations against him surfaced on Friday morning.
The Mail & Guardian newspaper on Friday published what it called “crucial evidence in the case against President Jacob Zuma – evidence that was kept hidden when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) abandoned its prosecution of him”.
The evidence is in a “confidential” September 2006 forensic report, apparently prepared by KPMG for Zuma’s trial – the trial that never happened after then-acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges against Zuma on April 7, 2009.
The Cape Argus has not had an opportunity on Friday to independently verify the allegations or the origin of the report. The Presidency was unable to respond to questions about the report at press time today.
The report revealed that Nelson Mandela gave Zuma R1 million to help settle his debts.
According to the 500-page report, Mandela came to Zuma’s rescue in June 2005, a few days after he was fired as deputy president and after the NPA announced that it would charge Zuma with corruption.
The report also says a total of 783 payments were made to Zuma by his corruption-convicted, former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, amounting to more than R4m.
It says Zuma also benefited from several businessmen, including his nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, and Durban businessman Vivian Reddy.
Large commercial banks bent over backwards to accommodate Zuma because of his political position, writing off bad debt against his name, said the report.
Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said the paper had taken the unusual step of publishing the full report without having offered Zuma or any other parties a right of reply before publication, because “we are convinced that the risk of being prevented from publishing it at all was real”.
Notwithstanding this, Dawes said he believed the report “is a substantial and credible document, based on an assessment of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents obtained by investigating authorities and conducted by experts in forensic accounting”.
The DA’s federal chairman, James Selfe, said in response on Friday: “I do not know how Mr Zuma is going to explain away these revelations, because they go to the heart of the invalid discontinuation of the prosecution against him.”
Selfe said the DA had been waiting for the notorious and mysterious “spy tapes’” transcripts, which the NPA and Zuma’s legal team have refused to make available, despite being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
But Selfe said the information published on Friday, and also elsewhere recently, “fortified” the DA’s argument that the NPA’s decision to drop the charges against Zuma in 2009 was both “irrational and illegal”.
Armed with this fresh “evidence”, Selfe said the DA would now proceed with its court challenge of the NPA’s decision, without necessarily waiting for the spy tapes transcripts.
Selfe said this raised the spectre of a sitting president facing criminal charges.
“The evidence published today alleges that the president has been on the take, that people have provided money for him to live beyond his means,” Selfe explained.
He said this raised numerous questions, including whether he had paid tax on monies paid to him, whether or not there had been “strings attached, in one form or another”, and many more.
These were so serious that they had to be tested in court, Selfe charged.
“It opens up a whole can of worms. I don’t believe that he has any other option but to stand down until such time as he may be able to clear his name,” Selfe said. – Additional reporting by Sapa