DA not invited to NPA media briefing, Zille cries foul

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

DA leader Helen Zille is spitting fire after the National Prosecuting Authority refused her party permission to attend the press conference at which the decision on ANC president Jacob Zuma's charges will be announced this morning.

The NPA is expected to announce its decision on whether to proceed with or drop charges against Zuma in Pretoria.

Zuma's legal team spent two days in lengthy meetings with the NPA over the matter last week. Speculation is high that acting NPA head Moketedi Mpshe will drop the charges against Zuma.

Zille said barring the official opposition from the press conference added weight to the perception that the NPA was engaged in a cover-up. She said press conferences were by their very nature intended to be open and transparent.

"There is no reason to bar interested parties from them. In this case there is an additional reason for the DA to be present. We were given permission by the NPA to submit reasons why the case against Zuma should not be withdrawn," she said in a statement yesterday.

Zille said if the charges against Zuma are withdrawn, "it will mean that the NPA rejected our submission".

"We have not been informed of this by the NPA. They have, however, recognised the DA as an interested party in this matter, which has profound constitutional implications.

"It is therefore unacceptable that we have been barred from a press conference which will announce the outcome of the NPA's deliberations on the entire Zuma matter, including the DA's submissions," she said.

Zille maintained that she will be there this morning. "Perhaps the NPA fears the DA's presence . because they know we will not countenance a cover-up. We want to know why the Zuma submissions could not be made in open court as part of his defence.

"Even if there was a conspiracy against him, this does not imply his innocence," said Zille.

NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali refuted that they had barred Zille from attending the press conference.

"The invitation issued is meant for the media fraternity. In the communication issued, the state made it clear that the conference is meant for members of the media," he said.

Tlali said if the NPA had something to hide it would be stupid to call a media briefing "when we know that questions will be put to us to which we have to respond".