“I have read the transcripts of the tapes handed to us by the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] last Thursday. They constitute recordings of 36 conversations over five months,” Zille said in the Democratic Alliance SA Today newsletter.
“Without revealing the contents, I am satisfied that the ‘spy tapes’ provide sufficient evidence to continue our review application of the decision, by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe, to withdraw the charges against President Zuma.”
The DA’s lawyers had advised it not to make the contents of the tapes public.
The reason was the legal precedent set by a recent ruling by Judge Ashley Binns-Ward in the Western Cape High Court between the City of Cape Town and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
The Sanral case also dealt with a revision application by the DA, in this case of Sanral’s decision to build an N1/N2 Winelands toll highway.
Binns-Ward found that common law principles prevented a court file being made available to parties other than those involved in the application before the case was heard in court.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said that until the ruling, the DA had intended to release the recordings.
However, it had been told this would be unwise as another division could follow the Western Cape ruling.
In the run-up to the release of the tapes, Zille had said it would be a matter of days before the whole country would know their content. On Monday, she said she still believed they were in the public interest, but that this would happen only during the review case.
“And while I believe that it would be in the public interest to release these records, the DA’s legal team has advised that the ‘discovered documents’, including the recordings, may only be revealed during the court proceedings for which they were required.”
The DA was handed the spy tapes last week after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that the NPA had to comply with a previous order to release the tapes. Zuma had opposed the move.
The recordings, internal memoranda, reports and minutes of meetings dealing with the contents of the recordings had to be provided.
The tapes, containing recorded phone conversations, allegedly reveal collusion between the former head of the Directorate of Special Operations (the now defunct Scorpions) Leonard McCarthy, and the NPA’s former head Bulelani Ngcuka to manipulate the prosecutorial process before the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.
Zuma was elected ANC president at the conference. Former president Thabo Mbeki had been a contender for another term.
At the time, Mpshe said the tapes showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case against him could not continue. The charges were dropped shortly before Zuma was sworn in as president in 2009.