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."


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