Jacob Zuma accuses Cyril Ramaphosa of getting ‘special treatment’ because he is president

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2023


Pretoria - Former head of state Jacob Zuma has “called out” incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa, questioning if he is getting “special treatment” by virtue of being president following a decision by the justice system to hear Ramaphosa’s case before a full Bench.

The two are at loggerheads after Zuma instituted private prosecution against the president involving advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan as “accessory after the fact”, following the two allegedly leaking Zuma’s confidential medical information during his arms deal trial.

However, Ramaphosa is seeking to block this private prosecution, which is set to be heard in front of a full Bench tomorrow at 10am.

Presiding over the matter will be Gauteng Deputy Judge President (DJP) Roland Sutherland, who issued a directive saying a full Bench would hear the matter in person, changing from virtually. The Bench will comprise judges Sutherland, Edwin Molahlehi and Edwin Senyatsi, who was originally allocated the case and was to hear it virtually yesterday.

Ramaphosa is seeking to be removed from the accused list in Zuma’s legal battle against Downer and Maughan, which Zuma has opposed and filed his arguments on Friday, calling Ramaphosa’s application “abusive, frivolous, and vexatious”.

Zuma filed his answering affidavit opposing Ramaphosa’s urgent application to the Johannesburg High Court, interdicting the former president from pursuing his private prosecution against him.

By late yesterday afternoon it was still not clear that Ramaphosa would be filing his heads of argument that were meant to be filed by noon yesterday, which meant his legal team was likely to apply for condonation to the court to allow it to submit the papers late.

The new developments prompted Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi to question why there would be a full Bench presiding over the matter, questioning the legality of it. He asked if this was normal, or rather special treatment for Ramaphosa because he was president.

Manyi said in a statement: “This private prosecution has gone from being mocked as something to be ignored into something quite big that now requires a full Bench. It’ll be interesting to see how the full Bench will deal with a defective affidavit from none other than the head of state.”

He welcomed that Ramaphosa had been advised to take the private prosecution matter seriously.

“Notwithstanding that it is a welcome development that the advice for President Ramaphosa to ignore the summons has been exposed to be fundamentally flawed and ultra vires, but on the other hand, given the laws we have been subjected to, one hopes that this is not another build-up of another shenanigan.

“Why would such a frivolous case require a full Bench at the instance of the judiciary itself? Typically it’s one of the parties that normally would request for such. This is frivolous because the main case is set down for January19. Is this perhaps one of those exceptional/exclusive treatments for the all-important President Ramaphosa?” asked Manyi.

He asked if ordinary people got the same treatment and if the people of South Africa were equal before the law.

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya could not be reached for comment.

Zuma announced on the eve of the ANC’s 55th elective conference that he would privately prosecute Ramaphosa “for being an accessory after the fact in the crimes committed by among others advocate (Billy) Downer, namely, breaching the provisions of the NPA Act”.

In turn, Ramaphosa’s lawyers served Zuma with legal papers demanding that Zuma withdraw the private prosecution, giving him until December 21 to withdraw, however Zuma continued with his bid to privately prosecute Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers said in the papers served to Zuma that the president would ignore the summons sent to him accusing him of abusing legal processes.

Ramaphosa was recently re-elected as the ANC’s president at the party’s conference in Nasrec.

Pretoria News