In joining the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in opposing an application by the Democratic Alliance to review the decision to drop Zuma’s prosecution, the President submitted his criminal prosecution would be impractical and hamper him in carrying out his duties.
He insisted it would affect relations both domestically and internationally and that the embarrassment to South Africa, particularly during the World Cup soccer, would be untold.
Zuma also opposed an application by defence contractor Richard Young and his company CCII to intervene in the main application.
He described them as “mere busybodies meddling in affairs which do not concern them”.
The DA filed an application in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday to force the NPA to explain its “irrational and arbitrary decision” not to prosecute Zuma.
More than a year after launching an urgent court application to have the decision set aside, the DA argued that it first needed access to the materials on which the decision was based. The NPA opposed the application.
It said the DA did not have the legal standing to bring the review application in the first place, and that the decision not to prosecute the President was not an administrative one and therefore not reviewable.
Millions of documents
Lawyer for the NPA, Paul Kennedy SC, said state resources were needed “for far more important matters” than to produce millions of documents which may at the end of the day be of academic interest only.
Both the NPA and Zuma have asked the court not only to deny the DA access to the decision-making record, but also to dismiss the entire review application.
Both maintained even a reduced record, which excluded “confidential” submissions made by Zuma, would infringe on Zuma’s dignity and privacy and that of a number of other persons.
Counsel for the DA, Sean Rosenberg SC, argued the decision not to prosecute Zuma appeared to be “fundamentally illogical and irrational”, especially where it appeared Zuma had a “damning case” to answer.
He argued that the decision not to prosecute Zuma appeared to have been based solely on the basis of what he described as “the McCarthy shenanigans”, which he said had no relation to the merits of the prosecution.
He was referring to the phone calls between former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and the former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, allegedly colluding to recharge Zuma after the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.
Manipulation of process
“McCarthy’s manipulation of the process was confined to a very narrow issue of timing without any reference to the original decision to prosecute, the strength of the case, the fact that it became inevitable that Zuma would be prosecuted… and that the case against Zuma had reached potent proportions,” Rosenberg said.
“Yet it was withdrawn on the most threadbare of reasons which bore little or no relevance to Zuma’s prosecution… It is desirable that the court should be placed in possession of the relevant information.” he said.
Rosenberg argued that the NPA and Zuma’s “obstructive” approach to providing the record was at odds with the constitutional values of accountability, openness and transparency and harked back to the dark days of apartheid when officials making decisions could “hide behind a wall of silence”.
The application continues before Acting Judge Natvarial Ranchod. – SAPA