The National Prosecuting Authority was legally bound to indict President Jacob Zuma following last week’s North Gauteng High Court ruling that set aside the 2009 decision to drop 783 charges against him, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
The official opposition party, which successfully sought a review of the 2009 decision to withdraw the charges, said in the light of legal precedent and advice from its lawyers, it became clear that the charges “are automatically reinstated”.
“Upon seeking a legal opinion and further reading of last week’s North Gauteng High Court ruling, it has become clear that the charges that were erroneously dropped by the NPA in 2009 are automatically reinstated and the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shaun Abrahams, is duty-bound to proceed with the prosecution,” said James Selfe, the chairman of the party’s federal executive.
This view was echoed by constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, who said the high court ruling left the NPA with two clear options — charge Zuma or appeal the judgment delivered by a full bench last Thursday.
“When the North Gauteng High Court declared invalid the decision by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to discontinue the prosecution of President Jacob Zuma for corruption, racketeering and fraud, the original decision to charge Zuma was reinstated,” De Vos opined on his blog, Constitutionally Speaking, on Tuesday.
“This means at present there is a legally valid decision by the NPA to charge President Zuma for various criminal offences. The NPA is now legally obliged to indict the president – unless it appeals the judgment.”
The charges were dropped shortly before the 2009 national elections, paving the way for Zuma to be elected president. The high court found that the basis on which then acting head of the NPA, Mokotedi Mpshe, had withdrawn the charges — that the timing of Zuma’s indicted may have been manipulated for political reasons — was irrational.
The high court said the charges were not tainted by the allegations surrounding the timing and went on to add: “Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment.”
The charges against Zuma stem from alleged wrongdoing relating to the multi-billion dollar arms deal South Africa signed in 1999 to overhaul its military hardware.
– African News Agency (ANA)