Former South African President Jacob Zuma sits in the dock at the High Court in Durban. Photo: Nic Bothma / Pool via AP
Former South African President Jacob Zuma sits in the dock at the High Court in Durban. Photo: Nic Bothma / Pool via AP
DURBAN - Former president Jacob Zuma said the so-called spy tapes needed to be made available to the public so that people could hear for themselves the “political conspiracy behind the bid to prosecute him”.

Addressing thousands of supporters outside the Durban High Court, soon after Judge Themba Sishi had postponed his case to June 8, he said the charges of corruption against him were an attempt to silence him from promoting radical economic transformation.

He said Judge Chris Nicholson in 2009 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court withdrew charges against him after the discovery of the spy tapes. The spy tapes contain conversations between Leonard McCarthy and former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Bulelani Ngcuka, providing evidence, according to the NPA, of collusion against Zuma between former NPA officials and former president Thabo Mbeki.

“Those tapes say a lot, I wish the court could one day allow the country to listen to these tapes because they led prosecutors to withdraw the case, they were wrong to conspire against me,” he said. Zuma said he would challenge the decision by NPA boss Shaun Abrahams to reinstate charges against him.

“These charged have been reinstated for political reasons.

“Opposition parties, because of their serious lack of politics don’t know how to win debates in Parliament and they are using courts to drive their agenda.

“For more than 10 years they have been saying ‘we want this case reinstated’,” he said.

He thanked ANC structures in KwaZulu-Natal - the ANC Youth League and ANC Women’s League - for coming out in numbers to support him in defiance of the party leadership, which issued instructions that the party and its regalia should not be associated with his support.

“I would like to thank Premier (Willies) Mchunu for his presence. I would like to thank the ANCWL and youth for their presence. I would like to thank you like I thanked you many years ago,” he said.

Legal expert Paul Hoffman said Zuma and his legal team would try anything to “duck, dive, delay and defect” the case so that he may never be asked to plead to the charges.

After the postponement, Hoffman said given the track record of Zuma’s legal team, he foresaw they would lodge a review proceeding in respect of the decision not to uphold Zuma’s representations.

“They will appeal that if they lose. Then they will appeal that appeal at the Constitutional Court. They will exhaust every avenue to appeal and that will take about two to three years,” Hoffman said.

He said they would possibly apply to get a permanent stay of prosecution and “rehash” everything which could push the matter for another three years.

“Then there will be a fight for who will pay Zuma’s legal fees. All this will delay the day Zuma is asked to plead to the charges,” he said.

Victim

In a different scenario, should Zuma be asked to plead sooner, Hoffman said his legal team would try to foster a deal that may result in some charges being dropped.

“If not a plea bargain, then they [legal team] will continue to throw sand in the gearbox of the judiciary system.”

Political analyst Professor Susan Booysen said Zuma again portrayed himself as a victim despite “milking the taxpayer for his legal costs”.

“The lasting impression of Zuma is that he is dishonest and disingenuous. He knows how to play the game and he should be the last person to speak about inequality before the law.

“He has milked the legal system and this is how he has elevated himself above the law.”

Booysen said Zuma made implicit threats and that he would continue to do this.

“He told his supporters ‘if I am prosecuted’ which means he will continue to play the game as long he has the legal funds to fight this and to find a way of getting off these charges.”

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo, said Zuma’s stance that the reinstatement of the charges against him was politically motivated was a form of self-contradiction as Zuma had, for years, said he was prepared to have his day in court to defend himself.

“He is using the same tactics that he used before 2009 by saying that he is being harrassed. The question is who is harassing him now,” Khumalo said.

He said Zuma was just playing the victim and trying to garner public sympathy by claiming there was a political conspiracy behind the charges and also blaming white monopoly capital as the source of all his troubles. 

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said despite comments made by individuals outside court, they were sticking to the universally accepted principles of innocent until proven guilty.

Watch: Thousands of Zuma supporters filled the streets of Durban. Video: Duncan Guy

POLITICAL BUREAU / THE INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY