NPA's dropping of Zuma charges always irrational - James Selfe

DA CFE says President has gone to extraordinary lengths to evade justice

Spy Tapes: DA to request Court to invalidate decision to drop charges against Zuma

29 February 2016

Note to editors: The following remarks were made during a press conference by the Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, James Selfe MP, the DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP, and DA National Spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme MP, ahead of arguments to be made before the North Gauteng High Court regarding the charges against President Jacob Zuma in the Spy tapes saga.

Tomorrow, 01 March 2016, the DA’s review application will be heard to have the decision to drop the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against President Jacob Zuma set aside before the North Gauteng High Court's full bench. We contend that the dropping of these charges by the then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Mokotedi Mpshe, was born out of irrational political considerations not based in law or due process. This remains in an effort to keep President Zuma out of court and answering for the charges for which he should stand accused.

Consequently, the DA in its heads of argument is appealing to the North Gauteng High Court full bench to have the decision to drop the charges declared invalid, irrational and set aside on that basis which could lead to the reinstatement of the charges against President Zuma.

President Zuma has gone to great lengths in order to evade justice, it took more than five years and six court appearances for the “Spy Tapes” and the “Record of Decision” eventually to be released to us in September 2014. 

While we have had to tirelessly raise funds and carefully budget to pay for this protracted legal battle, Jacob Zuma and the NPA have had no such troubles. The President regards taxpayers’ hard-earned contributions to the fiscus as his own private legal (and home renovation) fund. He has squandered many millions on a legal team that has a mandate to keep him out of court.

In doing so the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) heads of argument make it clear that it is hell bent on advancing President Zuma’s narrative that there was a political conspiracy against President Zuma which warranted the dropping of the charges which is largely irrelevant and does not speak to the veracity and merits of the case itself.

It is worth noting that despite the then NPA head, Mokotedi Mpshe, has now desperately attempted to distance himself from this decision that the NPA, in its heads of argument, asserts was “polycentric”.

In any event Adv Mpshe, confirms- in his supplementary confirmatory affidavit- that the case against Mr Zuma was indeed ripe for prosecution and that “the decision to prosecute [President Jacob] Zuma had been taken, and the prosecution would be instituted as soon as possible because there was no legitimate reason to delay it- i.e. no reason related to the prosecution itself.” 

With every interaction with the respondents in this review application it becomes more and more apparent that the decision to discontinue the prosecution was informed by political considerations and not considerations based in law. This is inherently irrational and on that basis the decision should be set aside.

It has always been our contention that the record of decision reveals that:

Mpshe did not make his decision based on an assessment that his earlier decision to institute criminal proceedings against the President was flawed;

He did not make his decision based on any new information;

He did not make his decision based on any substantive content of the indictment containing the charges or on concerns about the prosecuting team.

In the absence of any legitimate factual or legal reasons, the DA is led to believe that these charges were dropped to serve a political agenda. It would have been for President Zuma to argue that he was being prosecuted for malicious political reasons and for a competent court to decide on the merits of such representations. It was not for the NPA, acting at the President’s behest, to simply drop the charges without legal basis.

The DA has long held, as outlined in my supplementary affidavit, that the President may indeed not be guilty of corruption but must, like any other citizen, have his day in court.

It is unfortunate, however, that the ANC-led government, and President Zuma in particular, have used every legal tool conceivable to thwart the release of the Spy Tapes in an attempt to sweep all questions under the carpet under a blanket claim that there was a political plot afoot to prevent him from ascending to the presidency.

It is furthermore outrageous that President Zuma has, over the last five years, used taxpayers money to bankroll the witholding of these Spy Tapes that his legal counsel have conceded contained nothing that warranted the dropping of the almost 800 charges of corruption against him.

The Court’s willingness to engage this case to date bodes well for the discharge of justice. We are optimistic that the Court will receive our arguments favourably and come to a determination to set aside the decision to drop the charges against President Zuma.

Statement issued by James Selfe MP, Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, 29 February 2016