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ANC: Zuma trial not in SA's interest

Published Mar 19, 2009



By Gaye Davis and Ella Smook

Details of the ANC's representations to the National Prosecuting Authority regarding party leader Jacob Zuma prosecution have emerged for the first time.

This comes as ANC anger over leaked information that the NPA was preparing to drop charges against Zuma targeted Zuma's friend and senior party member Moe Shaik.

The ANC's Lindiwe Sisulu told the Cape Argus last night that the party made its representations to the NPA on February 4, arguing that Zuma's prosecution should be dropped because it was not in the best interests of the country.

The key thrust of the ANC's argument, said Sisulu, was that if the NPA had dealt expeditiously with Zuma's case he, the ANC and the country would have seen justice done. Instead, it had turned into a years-long, drawn-out process, running up a bill of around R100-million.

"Most South Africans have to foot that bill and we are not convinced there is a winnable case here," Sisulu said.

She heads a committee of 10 national working committee members, including Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Collins Chabane, which was formed soon after Polokwane to support Zuma in his legal battles. Sisulu said the committee of 10 had consulted widely - including another task team comprising Paul Ngobeni, deputy registrar of legal services at UCT, Venda University vice-chancellor Gessler Nkondo, Judge Willem Heath and academic and commentator Professor Sipho Seepe.

It was the committee of 10 that decided the ANC would apply to become a friend of the court in Zuma's Constitutional Court bid to have his prosecution stayed, a decision taken in the interests of "a transparent, clean process", the outcome of which would be accepted by everybody - and protect the country's international standing.

The aim was to "dispel fears that (Zuma's case) would be settled behind closed doors", Sisulu said. "If we had wanted to do that we would have just folded our arms and let things take their course. But we did not go that route because it would not help us in the long run."

Ngobeni this morning explained the ANC's contention that the prosecution was not in the national interest. He said that if Zuma's prosecution went ahead, his trial was unlikely to be completed in the next five years as a result of appeal upon appeal, and challenges to the constitutionality of laws concerning racketeering.

This had a negative impact on the image of the country, because it made the prosecution, who "could not even bring to trial a case for which they claimed they had prima facie evidence", look incompetent.

The judicial system, institutions of democracy, the executive and the presidency have all been hurt, he said.

"If you look at it, it is so disproportionate, so counter-productive, it makes no sense to spend that kind of money," said Ngobeni.

Sisulu said the committee was content with the prospect of putting its arguments before the Constitutional Court, alongside Zuma, in May. But on

Monday, leaked information suggesting the NPA was to drop charges against Zuma, unleashed a storm of


At the centre of that storm was Moe Shaik who told University of Pretoria students on Monday that newspapers would report the following day that Zuma's charges would be dropped.

Sisulu said she was "hopping mad" at Shaik. Shaik defended himself, saying he merely reported to the students information he'd received in a flurry of text messages.

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