12. January 2009

Supreme Court of Appeal in favour of recharging Zuma

The Supreme Court of Appeal on Monday ruled in favour of the National Prosecuting Authority's bid to recharge Jacob Zuma on graft charges.

The SCA delivered a scathing judgment against Judge Chris Nicholson on Monday, describing his finding of political meddling in the Zuma graft case as "erronous", "unwarranted" and "incomprehensible".

"Political meddling was not an issue that had to be determined. Nevertheless a substantial part of his judgment dealt with this question. He changed the rules of the game, he took his eyes off the ball," said acting Deputy Judge President Louis Harms, while handing down judgement in Bloemfontein.

Harms said Nicholson's finding that he could not exclude the possibility of political meddling in the decision to re-charge Zuma was "incomprehensible", that he erred in his judgment and that his findings were "unwarranted". He said Nicholson had overstepped the limits of his duty as a judge.

"The [findings] involving Dr [Penuell] Maduna, Mr Mbeki and all the other members of Cabinet ... were not based on any evidence or allegations. They were instead part of the judge's own conspiracy theory and not one advanced by Mr Zuma," said Harms.

Harms started delivering his judgement at 10am on Monday in the appeal lodged by the National Director of Public Prosecutions against the Nicholson ruling on September 12 last year.

The Bloemfontein court must rule on mainly two aspects in the appeal. The first is whether Zuma was entitled to make representations before the NDPP decided to re-charge him with corruption and fraud in December 2007, ten days after Zuma beat Mbeki in the ANC leadership race. The second is whether Nicholson was correct in implying in his September 2008 judgement there was political meddling by Mbeki in the decision to charge Zuma.

The top leadership of the ANC used the judgement to recall Mbeki as president, exposing Zuma-Mbeki factionalism in the ruling party which ultimately led to the birth of a breakaway party. (Mail & Guardian)


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