Supporters of the leader of South
Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party have welcomed news that
Jacob Zuma will appeal Monday's ruling that revives graft charges against him.
Zuma's defense team announced Wednesday that it would soon approach the
country's Constitutional Court to challenge Monday's ruling, which effectively
clears the way for prosecutors to revive corruption charges against him. But
some political analysts believe the announcement is a political strategy to
delay Zuma's trial ahead of South Africa's presidential election, which he is
heavily favored to win. Constitutional law expert Professor Shadrak Gutto tells
reporter Peter Clottey that Zuma's chances of success in the new appeal are
intends appealing against the judgment, which was handed down on Monday to the
Supreme Court of Appeal. Now, in this particular matter, the Supreme Court of
Appeal's judgment, there is a general feeling in the country among the legal
fraternity that it was one of the best judgments that we have really seen
coming out of our courts for a long time. And that it was one, which dealt with
each issue, looked at the law on the points, looked at the constitution, and
tried to interpret the constitution in such a way that it gives sense, given
the facts that we had," Professor Gutto noted.
said Zuma's chances of winning an appeal against Monday's ruling would be
is going to make it very difficult for an appeal on constitutional grounds and
legal grounds really to have a chance of success," he said.
Gutto said there could be an understanding that Zuma's defense move was
primarily motivated to delay charges against him to proceed ahead of the
is an opinion, which may find some credence in the fact that Zuma has made so
many appeals on so many issues that has substantially made a delay in any
hearing of the charges against him in a court of law. But we must accept from a
constitutional point of view and as a lawyer personally, I have to say that you
can never refuse an accused person the right to make an appeal even if it is on
technical grounds, whatever the motive. In this case of course the suspicion is
that it would delay the matter until the elections take place," Professor Gutto
said the ruling ANC would be plunged into controversy if it wins a majority in
the elections and attempts to amend the constitution.
once the election has taken place, assuming that the ruling party wins the
majority, he (Zuma) would be the president. And if he is, then there is a lot
of talk within the party itself that they want to change the law and the
constitution to give immunity to a sitting president. Now, that is a political
strategy and it is one which is going to be extremely controversial because it
means putting in place a law that would encourage presidents to abuse the legal
system," he said.
Gutto said ongoing negotiations between Zuma's defense team and the national
prosecutors could lead to a possible compromise to resolve the legal troubles
of the ruling party's presidential candidate in the upcoming election.
compromise could also b reached in terms of plea bargaining where he (Zuma)
concedes to some wrongdoing and in exchange, he is therefore given some light
sentence or charged with a light offense, and so on. But all of that would be
done in the public domain, and I believe that Jacob Zuma so far has strenuously
tried to say he was involved in no wrongdoing. And plea bargainers actually
advise him to concede that there was some wrongdoing. So no one knows where
that would be going. But it is going to be very difficult for the National
Prosecuting Authority to really bargain with him (Zuma) and let him off scot
free," Professor Gutto pointed out.
charged for a second time shortly after being elected president of the ANC at
the end of 2007 for alleged bribery in connection with a South African arms
An appeals court Monday upheld a National Directorate of
Public Prosecutions' application to appeal a ruling which had freed the ANC
presidential candidate from the lengthy prosecution they had been working on
against him. The appeals court judge overturned an earlier court ruling which
dismissed graft charges against Zuma, saying the lower court judge overstepped