A South African High Court is on Friday morning expected to hand down judgment in an appeal of a case in which president Zuma has been asked to face charges of corruption in an arms probe dating back to 2009.
A court in late April had ruled that 783 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering which were dropped against Zuma, the then vice president was ‘irrational’ and ordered that the president be made to stand trial over the case.
The presidency in a terse statement said Zuma accepted the ruling but would appeal, the State prosecutor subsequently disclosed an intention to also appeal, it is that appeal by both parties that the court is to rule on today.
This marks a seminal day in a protracted battle to uphold the Rule of Law, above which no man, not even the President, is above.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2009 then led by chief prosecutor, Mokotedi Mpshe, dropped the charged saying that phone-tap evidence suggested political interference in the investigation.
The case known in South Africa as ‘Spy Tapes’ affair was sent back to the court but main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) who insist that Zuma is culpable and must face charges.
According to the DA, ‘‘This marks a seminal day in a protracted battle to uphold the Rule of Law, above which no man, not even the President, is above.’‘
Led by their leader Mmusi Musimane, the DA saus they are hopeful trhat the court would throw out the NPA and Zuma’s appeal and pave way for the trial to proceed.
‘‘At the time the Court reserved judgement which indicates that the Court is insistent on giving this application its full and careful attention – and we are confident that it will come to a favourable finding by dismissing the NPA’s and Zuma’s application when it hands down judgment,’‘ a DA statement read.
This is the second time in a number of months that a court has ruled against Zuma. A constitutional court had earlier ordered Zuma to pay back public funds that were used in renovating parts of his private residence.
‘‘We are confident that the Court will find in our favour and it will then finally be time for President Zuma to have his day in court, affording him the opportunity to defend himself, without fear or favour, on the 783 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering which he now currently faces,’‘ the DA statement further added.
A week before the last ruling, president Zuma made public the finding of a commission of inquiry set up to look at the allegations and announced that it found no evidence against any government officials of the time. According to him, money had been paid for consultancy services “and nothing else.”
South Africa goes to the polls on August 3, to elect officials at the local level. Exit polls are already putting the opposition DA in the lead in most provinces. The decision of the court is certainly going to have some ramifications on the elections.
The ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) would be facing stiff challenges from the DA and the Economic Freedon Fighters (EFF) which was founded by a former youth leader from the ANC, Julius Malema.