Durban - The DA has disputed the confidentiality imposed on President Jacob Zuma’s submission to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) claiming that it has legal rights to the documents.
Zuma made his representation to the NPA on Wednesday night, explaining why corruption charges against him should not be reinstated, but those documents were declared confidential and not available to the public.
The original deadline for the representations to be submitted was November 2017, but National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams extended the deadline to January 31, 2018.
A Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling dismissed Zuma's and the NPA's application to appeal a high court ruling that the dropping of the corruption charges against him by then NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe was "irrational".
Mpshe dropped the charges, based on the "spy tapes", which were presented to him by Zuma's legal team. The "spy tapes" were recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka.
Zuma’s legal team claimed the tapes revealed political interference in the decision to charge him.
The DA’s federal council chairperson James Selfe issued a statement saying that he had written to Abrahams requesting access to Zuma’s submission.
“The DA is entitled to Zuma’s full submission as the main litigant in this case, which has dragged on for almost a decade and cost ordinary South Africans an estimated R30 million or more in legal fees,” he said.
It is not clear how many charges Zuma will face but they have been reported to include corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.
“The DA will engage thoroughly with the contents and continue to ensure that Zuma has his day in court, like any other citizen faced with the same charges would,” said Selfe.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said Abrahams had told his team of prosecutors that they would have two weeks to look at the document and advise him on the way forward once the president had submitted representations.
“But it seems that we were too ambitious because the representation is quite voluminous.
“He has to meet with the prosecution team and decide on how long they will need,” said Mfaku.
In its submission to the NPA in November, the DA’s lawyers Minde Schapiro and Smith advised Abrahams that instead of the NPA deciding not to reinstate charges against Zuma, it should be left to a court to determine whether to stop the prosecution or not.
The party said this would encourage fair, free and open consideration of Zuma’s complaints against the unfairness of the charges against him.
“It will also give Pres Zuma his day in court. Conversely, another ‘backroom’ deal shrouded in secrecy, will undermine your status, and destroy the reputation and perceived independence of the NPA,” read the document.
The document also suggested that Zuma apply to the court for a permanent stay of prosecution by raising objections to any alleged tarnished evidence in his criminal proceedings.