Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Zuma to oppose Mbeki application

25/09/2008 21:22  - (SA)

Johannesburg - ANC president Jacob Zuma will oppose former president Thabo Mbeki's application to join an appeal against the Pietermaritzburg High Court judgement suggesting he was part of a political conspiracy.

Zuma on Thursday filed notice, in the Constitutional Court, of his intention to oppose the application, according to a statement from his lawyer Michael Hulley.

Mbeki filed papers on Monday applying to join the Constitutional Court appeal brought by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

He argued that certain parts of Justice Chris Nicholson's judgement on the Zuma matter were "unfair and unjust".

"I respectfully submit that it was not necessary for the learned judge to make the findings I am appealing against, or seeking to set aside, in order for him to decide the real issue that was before him.

"In any event, it was improper for the court to make such far-reaching findings concerning me."

Political meddling

In his judgement, Nicholson found that the executive - of which Mbeki was head - might have interfered in the decision to prosecute Zuma, who faced racketeering, corruption, money-laundering and fraud charges related to the multi-billion rand arms deal.

"I am... not convinced that the applicant (Zuma) was incorrect in averring political meddling in his prosecution," Nicholson noted in his ruling.

Nicholson also criticised former justice minister Penuell Maduna's involvement with former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka early in the investigation.

It was after the court ruling that the ANC announced it was recalling Mbeki, not to punish him, but as "a political way to deal with the implications of Judge Nicholson's ruling".

However, announcing his resignation on Saturday, Mbeki disputed suggestions of his involvement in a political conspiracy against Zuma.

"I would like to state this categorically: that we have never done this and never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it should prosecute and not prosecute," he said.

Unfair and unjust

In his court papers, Mbeki said Nicholson's judgement was made without affording him a hearing and constituted "a violation of his constitutional rights" including access to courts and dignity.

He has asked the Constitutional Court to set aside "all findings of law and fact in the judgement" concerning himself.

"The findings... also go further in that they in effect say that I have failed to fulfil the constitutional obligation to uphold and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic," Mbeki noted.

"It is unfair and unjust for me to be judged and condemned on the basis of the findings in the Zuma matter. The interests of justice, in my respectful submission, would demand that the matter be rectified."

He also said there was a "real possibility" that "persons with malicious intent could act on the judgement to the detriment of the office of the president.

"Unless the errors in the judgement are rectified immediately by means of a judgement, I will continue to suffer and may even suffer great harm as would the office of the President of the Republic of South Africa and members of the national executive."


NPA: Zuma firing irrelevant

30/09/2008 21:15  - (SA)

Johannesburg - Judge Chris Nicholson had no grounds to rule on the establishment of an arms deal inquiry or to comment on former president Thabo Mbeki's decision to dismiss Jacob Zuma as deputy president of the country, according to the NPA.

In its application to the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday for leave to appeal against the judgment handed down by Nicholson earlier this month, the National Prosecuting Authority said that neither issue was actually relevant to Zuma's application to have the decision to charge him declared unlawful.

On September 12 Nicholson ruled in favour of the African National Congress president and said that Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, should have obtained representation from Zuma before deciding to charge him.

In its papers filed in court on Tuesday, and referring to Nicholson's judgment where he said Mbeki's decision to run again for president was "at its lowest, controversial and not in accordance with the Westminster system we espouse in this country", the NPA said this was irrelevant to the case being argued.

It also said that Nicholson's judgment, stating that "the decision of Mr Mbeki to dismiss the applicant from his office as deputy president of the Republic of South Africa was unfair and unjust because the applicant had not been given a chance to defend himself in a court of law", was not an issue raised by either the State or Zuma's legal team.

"None of those issues were material to the resolution of the case. This court was accordingly not acting in pursuance of its duty to resolve the dispute between the parties."

In its application, the NPA states 16 grounds that it has for appeal including the fact that it believes that "the court erred in holding that the NDPP had to request and consider representations from the applicant" prior to the 2005 decision by former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli and the December 2007 decision to prosecute Zuma.

The NPA maintained in its papers that there had been no review of the decision to prosecute Zuma but that it "was a fresh decision taken after the prosecution started by the Pikoli decision had been terminated by the order of Msimang J striking the matter from the roll in September 2006".

The NPA, in the papers signed by state prosecutor Anton Steynburg, claimed the court had "committed an irregularity" when Nicholson held that a commission of inquiry should be established to investigate the arms deal.

The NPA pointed out that Zuma's founding affidavit "contained numerous accusations of bad faith which were not only entirely irrelevant to the applicant's causes of action but in many instances were based on hearsay evidence or no evidence at all.

"The NDPP consequently brought the application to strike out those parts of the founding affidavit".


Mbeki fights back

23/09/2008 07:27  - (SA) 

Philip de Bruin, Beeld

Johannesburg - President Thabo Mbeki has ushered in a new round in the fight against the Zuma camp in the ANC, with an urgent appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Mbeki wants to have "remarks made in passing" by Judge Chris Nicholson that he had meddled in Jacob Zuma's prosecution, set aside.

On Monday, experts on the Constitution said it was a clear indication that Mbeki "had not thrown in the towel" and that "anyone who thinks that the fight between Mbeki and Zuma was a thing of the past, lives in a fool's paradise".

The passing remarks to which Mbeki refers in his affidavit to Chief Judge Pius Langa, are those made by Nicholson in his ruling in the Pietermaritzburg High Court earlier this month.

Nicholson ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had not given Zuma the opportunity to make representations before deciding to charge him again for fraud and corruption, amongst other things.

At that stage Zuma had just been elected ANC president in Mbeki's place.

Serious allegations

Mbeki says in the affidavit that, instead of focusing on the issue at hand, Nicholson went much further of his own accord, saying in passing that Mbeki and the ministers serving or having served with him, had meddled in the NPA's decision to prosecute Zuma.

Mbeki says these are serious allegations against him, not only in his personal capacity, but also as head of state, and they had resulted in him having to resign.

He argues that Nicholson had no right to make remarks of this nature without giving him and the relevant ministers the opportunity to state their case in court.

Mbeki states that this has affected his constitutional rights of human dignity and access to the courts. He argues that he should be given direct access to the Constitutional Court in order to have the "false" allegations set aside.

As Nicholson's remarks were not court orders, an appeal cannot be lodged against them in a Court of Appeal. Only the Constitutional Court now has the power to intervene, Mbeki argues.

Mbeki 'has strong chance of success'

Professor Marinus Wiechers, former law professor at Unisa and an expert on the constitution, thinks Mbeki has a "very strong chance" of success.

"I was astounded when I heard Judge Nicholson make his statements on Mbeki and the executive. That was not the legal issue he was required to rule on. I thought he should have let it go.

"One thing is certain: Mbeki's appeal is proving wrong all those who thought he had gone quietly, as Sunday night's dignified speech on TV could have indicated.

"On the contrary, he is clearly ready for battle, and upon close examination, Monday's appeal is nothing other than a veiled warning to Zuma that the Mbeki-Zuma fight is far from over."

Professor Tom Coetzee, former law professor at North West University's Potchefstroom campus, said he considered Nicholson's statements on political meddling in the Zuma prosecution as "neither relevant, nor fair".

"I was astonished. The Constitutional Court's ruling will be groundbreaking. Mbeki is taking the right route. No one should underestimate his intelligence."


Shilowa resigns 'out of principle'

29/09/2008 14:34  - (SA)

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa has announced his resignation.

"I am resigning due to my convictions that while the ANC has the right to recall any of its deployed cadres, the decision needs to be based on solid facts, be fair and just.

"I also did not feel that I will be able to, with conviction, publicly explain or defend the NEC's decision on comrade Thabo Mbeki," Shilowa told reporters in Johannesburg on Monday.

He denied that he had been "pushed" to resign but said he was doing it out of principle.

"It is a known fact that I hold strong views on the manner of his dismissal and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous," Shilowa said, referring to the ANC National Executive Committee's decision to remove Mbeki from office.

"I acknowledge and respect the ANC's rights to recall any of its deployed cadres. I am, however, of the view that there was no cogent reason for doing so."

Shilowa denied rumours that he was starting or would be part of a new political party.

"I know of no group who is starting another new party. I cannot be party to something I do not know," Shilowa said.