Opposition parties react to Zuma prosecution decision

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute former President Jacob Zuma on charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering.

NPA head Shaun Abrahams announced the decision on Friday afternoon in Pretoria. The charges are related to the multi-billion rand arms deal in the late 1990s.

ANC National sokesperson Pule Mabe says, “The former president of the ANC and the Republic of South Africa President Zuma is of course presumed innocent until proven otherwise. The NPA must be given space to do its work. He must also be accorded the same space to be able to attend to the issues that have been brought forward and I am sure that we have got a constitution in this country that protects the rights of all. We welcome the decision and we will be watching the developments quite closely.”

Questioned on the matter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Parliament this week that Zuma would have to pay his own costs only if he loses the case.

This is in terms of an agreement reached between the then President Thabo Mbeki’s administration and Zuma in the 2000’s, when the charges against Zuma first surfaced.

They relate to the arms deal of the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) insists that Zuma must pay his own legal fees, now that the NPA has decided to prosecute him.  DA leader Mmusi Maimane has welcomed the NPA’s decision.

“We welcome the decision that was taken today (Friday), it is victory for the DA and the rule of law. That actually due processes can compel even an institution that ran the risk of being captured and compel it to say you need to make a decision and say Zuma must face prosecution. Now the most important is that no legal fees must be funded by the tax payer and ultimately we can ensure that Mr Zuma has day in court as we have always asked it.”

United Democratic Movement (UDM) Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa has warned against what he calls “excitement” over the NPA’s decision to prosecute former president Jacob Zuma. Kwankwa says what is important now is to make sure all processes are followed, so that Zuma does finally see his day in court.

He says NPA Chief Shaun Abrahams made the decision due to mounting pressure from the ANC and not out of his own free will.

“He was forced by circumstances to do what he did today, he was also forced by the faction of the ANC which currently is in control of the ruling party to do so. However, what is good about this announcement is that at long last President Jacob Zuma is going to have his day in court, and we look forward to seeing and hearing him state his side of the story. As has always asked and wanted to do so.”

The IFP wants the NPA in KwaZulu-Natal to make every effort in the trial for a successful prosecution. IFP Chief Whip Narend Singh says Zuma now has the opportunity to prove his innocence.

“We’ve always said that we believe Mr Zuma even when he was president, should have his day in court. Now that day is looming, we hope that the court appearance is sooner rather than later and that the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal would put his best team forward to ensure that he gets a successful prosecution. We always maintain that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but the only forum that you have for that decision to be taken is in a court of law and there can be no better forum for Mr Zuma to prove his innocence.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has re-iterated its call for Abrahams to step aside from his position. The party’s national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says Abrahams’s decision to prosecute Zuma will not in any way restore the dignity of the NPA.

Ndlozi says the legality of Abrahams’s appointment – which has been set aside by a high court pending an appeal by Abrahams and the NPA was questionable from the word go.

“We want to re-iterate our call that Abrahams must vacate office as head of NPA because his appointment was illegal and illegitimate. Nothing will restore the confidence and the credibility of the NPA than the stepping down of Shaun Abrahams and a new head of NPA be appointed, who is fresh and who will be able to lead the institution into a new error.”

Click below for more on the story: