Mail and Guardian
After a 10-year legal war, President Jacob Zuma is trying to prevent the tapes that got him off the hook from being made public.
Since then Zuma’s decade-long battle to avoid prosecution on corruption charges has been the real political tsunami, ripping through institutions and careers.
It has led to the recall of a president, the factionalisation of the ruling party and its government, the destruction of the Scorpions, the departure of three national directors of public prosecutions and the tainting of the reputation of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Now Zuma’s bid to avoid his day of reckoning – including accounting for the seed money that first funded what has become the Nkandla monstrosity – has entered a bitter new phase following the NPA’s refusal to hand over copies of the so-called spy tapes.
The Zuma tapes The tapes – secret recordings by the intelligence services of discussions between members of the Scorpions, the NPA and prominent political figures – were leaked to Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, and used as the basis of the claim that the Zuma prosecution had been tainted by an “abuse of process”.
Then-acting national director of public prosecutions Moketedi Mpshe cited intercepted conversations of former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy as central to his decision, in April 2009, to discontinue the prosecution.
In excerpted transcripts released by Mpshe, McCarthy appeared to have a number of discussions in late 2007 with people outside the NPA – including then-former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka – about the timing of charges being reintroduced.
Of concern was the looming Polokwane conference of the ANC – and the impact that recharging Zuma might have on the outcome.
McCarthy also appeared to make a special effort – with Ngcuka’s assistance – to have the NPA’s court papers in the Constitutional Court filed and made public on their due date, Friday December 14.
The papers – in reply to Zuma’s constitutional challenge to the search and seizure operations carried out against him – set out the case against the man challenging Mbeki for the ANC presidency.
The intention appears to have been that delegates gathering in Polokwane that weekend would, in Ngcuka’s intercepted phrase: “Wake up, think: What are we doing?”
Mpshe’s decision In justifying his decision, Mpshe emphasised there had been a valid case against Zuma. He also noted that the prosecution team itself believed the case should continue and that it should be left to a court to decide whether to stop the prosecution.
But Mpshe argued: “Mr McCarthy used the legal process for a purpose other than for which the process was designed to serve, that is, for collateral and illicit purposes. It does not matter that the team acted properly, honestly, fairly and justly throughout. Mr McCarthy’s conduct amounts to a serious abuse of process and offends one’s sense of justice.” It later emerged that part of Mpshe’s legal justification appeared to have been lifted from a Hong Kong judgment that was later overturned on appeal.
McCarthy, who by then had left to join the World Bank, has never given his version of events. read more…