As an NPA deadline loomed overhead‚ Zuma made another late-night move

President Jacob Zuma in parliament.
President Jacob Zuma in parliament.
Image: GCIS

In what has become typical fashion‚ President Jacob Zuma used the late hours of the night to make a major move – this time submitting representations to the National Prosecuting Authority on why he shouldn’t face fraud and corruption charges with less than three hours before the deadline expired.

According to the NPA‚ Zuma made the submissions shortly after 9pm on Wednesday. Further details were not provided.

The president had previously been given until November last year to make the submission‚ but National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams extended this to the end of January 2018 – effectively midnight on Wednesday.

The submission comes amid a climate of increasing political pressure on ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa - from inside and outside the party – to remove Zuma from office.

On Wednesday‚ there were also calls from opposition parties to postpone the State of the Nation Address‚ which is scheduled for next week‚ as they felt Zuma was not fit to deliver it. There was also a new bid by the EFF to have a motion of no confidence in Zuma heard before the February 8 address.

Zuma is also set to face a fierce battle on another front‚ with the state capture inquiry looming. He has yet to promulgate regulations which will allow the inquiry‚ headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo‚ to begin its work.

The DA has‚ in the meantime‚ written to Abrahams asking that he provide it with a copy of Zuma’s submission.

“The DA is entitled to Zuma’s full submission as the main litigant in this case‚ which has dragged on for almost a decade and cost ordinary South Africans an estimated R30m or more in legal fees‚” federal executive chairman James Selfe said.

“The DA will engage thoroughly with the contents and continue to ensure that Zuma has his day in court‚ like any other citizen faced with the same charges would.”

In a letter from its lawyers‚ the DA asked Abrahams to give the party 14 calendar days to comment on Zuma's representations.

The party has made its own representations to the NPA.

Controversial KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Moipone Noko is leading the NPA’s team that is considering Zuma’s representations. Noko and her team‚ once they have considered the representations‚ will make recommendations to Abrahams on whether Zuma should face charges.

In October last year‚ following an 11th hour concession by Zuma’s lawyers‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed a bid by the president and the NPA to overturn a High Court in Pretoria judgement.

The high court found that the 2009 decision to drop the charges against Zuma was irrational and should be reinstated.

Abrahams future is also on the line after the High Court in Pretoria in December reviewed and set aside his appointment. The court also found that Zuma was too conflicted to appoint a NDPP and that this should be done by the deputy president. Zuma‚ the NPA and Abrahams are appealing the ruling in the Constitutional Court.

The NPA and Abrahams appeal papers had a letter attached in which the NPA informed Zuma’s lawyers that all 218 people on the witness list for the corruption matter were available.

Abrahams will give the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) two weeks’ notice before he makes any ruling on Zuma’s possible prosecution.

This would give Casac time to seek relief before Abrahams announced his decision. Abrahams has been accused of protecting Zuma. The NPA has also been seen as a politically captured institution and has been accused of bias.

In his appeal papers to the Constitutional Court Abrahams denied that he was dragging his heels in reinstating the corruption charges.

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