Former president Jacob Zuma File photo: ANA
Former president Jacob Zuma File photo: ANA

Experts disagree on whether Jacob Zuma would succeed at quashing arms trial

By Bongani Hans Time of article published Mar 15, 2020

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Cape Town - Former president Jacob Zuma might as well back down and allow his arms deal-related trial to start as his prospects of convincing the Constitutional Court to quash it are “almost none”.

This was the view of some constitutional law experts following the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos, of UCT, said Zuma would not succeed after this.

Zuma had appealed against the full bench of the high court, consisting of judges Bhekisisa Mnguni, Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and Esten Steyn, which in October dismissed his application for permanent stay of prosecution.

“The possibility in practice is almost none because you can only go to the Constitutional Court if you have constitutional issues or if you have another point of law that has not been decided yet.

“His case is made more difficult because the various courts have already ruled on all of the points that he raised,” said De Vos.

He said the high court had dealt with and exhausted all his arguments.

“I would be very surprised if the Constitutional Court says he has a case. I think the ruling on Friday means that the trial is going to go forward in the near future.”

However, another legal expert, Richard Stuurman of the Pieter- maritzburg-based Zaca, Stuurman and Magubane Attorneys, said Zuma still had a case to argue at the Concourt.

“He would raise an issue about the infringement of his rights and that due to the length of this case, including the withdrawals, his rights are being infringed.

“He has prospects when we look at the infringement of his rights,” said Stuurman.

Pro-Zuma Radical Economic Transformation (RET) spokesperson Carl Niehaus said he believed Zuma was considering taking the matter to the Concourt.

“That option is definitely there, but I do not want to pre-empt what the decision would be from president Zuma in consultation with his lawyers,” he said.

He said RET activists were shocked by the SCA’s ruling.

“Because one always hopes that this matter would be dealt with differently as we have been saying over and over again, we believe that there should be a stay of prosecution in this case as we believe that president Zuma does not have the slightest chance of getting a fair trial,” he said.

He said he was concerned that if the matter goes to trial, Zuma would run out of money to pay for his lawyers.

“There are those who are hoping that his financial resources would dry up. The financial issue impacted his personal life,” he said.

He said he hoped that there would be people who would generously come forward to assist Zuma with funds.

Attempts to get Zuma to reveal his next step after the Supreme Court finding had been unsuccessful as his spokesperson Vukile Mathabela and his son Edward Zuma, who speaks for the family, did not answer calls. His attorney Dan Mantsha has switched off his phone. No one responded to requests for comment.

Political Bureau

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