Zuma appeal doomed, say prosecutors
Prosecutors in Jacob Zuma’s corruption case have criticised the former President’s bid to appeal against last week’s ruling dismissing his attempt to have charges against him dropped permanently, saying an appeal is doomed to fail.
On the first day of trial yesterday, Zuma said he would launch an appeal application against the ruling that he should stand trial to face the charges that have been hanging over him for more than a decade, prompting Judge Sharmaine Balton to delay the trial until April 2020 to allow him time to challenge the ruling.
According to a Business Day report by legal writer Karyn Maughan, prosecutor Billy Downer said the state would oppose Zuma’s application and that of his co-accused, Thales.
‘We don’t think they are matters that should be brought now; they can be determined by the trial court,’ Downer said.
‘We don’t think there are reasonable prospects of success,’ Downer said about the appeals.
Zuma, who faces the prospect of spending 25 years behind bars if found guilty, was accused previously of using the ‘Stalingrad’ strategy to avert prosecution. Downer told the court yesterday that the courts had already ruled that Zuma needed to raise his issues with his prosecution with the judge who would try him, rather than fighting such cases outside of the context of his trial.
Zuma, who has argued that the case against him is politically motivated and that he has been denied his right to a speedy trial, said he has ‘always been ready’ to face the charges. Zuma stands accused of a corrupt relationship with his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who allegedly gave him R4.5m to further his business interests, and receiving bribes of R500 000 a year from Thales to protect it from any potential arms-deal probe.
Constitutional law expert Phephelaphi Dube is not convinced that Zuma will be able to show he has a reasonable prospect of success on appeal.
‘Since this was a full Bench of the High Court, he will need to petition the SCA to hear his appeal. He will need to convince the SCA that on the same set of facts, the SCA could come to a different conclusion,’ Dube said.
She says that Zuma’s prospects of success are ‘dim’, given that the decision Zuma was seeking to appeal against ‘established legal principles’ that the SCA relied on to make its ruling that the ‘spy tapes’ decision to withdraw Zuma’s prosecution was irrational because ‘bad motives do not destroy a good case’.
Attorney Ulrich Roux reportedly agreed: ‘I do not foresee the judge granting him leave to appeal, as the issues he set out in his application for a permanent stay can be decided upon during the trial.’
Business Day notes that should Zuma and Thales fail to get leave to appeal against the High Court’s ruling, they face the prospect of an expensive and protracted trial, which Zuma has already suggested he will struggle to pay for. But, it adds, he may petition the Appeal Court or seek direct access to the Constitutional Court, which would probably buy him time to raise money to pay legal fees.
Zuma has 15 days to file papers to explain why he believes a different court would grant him a permanent stay of prosecution.
According to an EWN report, Downer said Zuma agreed to file papers by 1 November. Should he meet the deadline, the matter would be heard on 22 November.
Downer told the court the parties had agreed to a hearing of Zuma’s application for leave to appeal in November and that, by February, they would have an idea of which way the case was going.
According to a Mail & Guardian report, the February date is a ‘holding date’, but Downer said the state was hoping the actual trial would start in April.
He added that the state was ready to go to trial.
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