Embattled outgoing South African President Thabo Mbeki has reportedly gone to court to clear his name after being accused of political influence in the graft charges against ruling African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma.
Mr. Mbeki is alleged to have approached a constitutional court to appeal against inferences made by the judge who threw out graft charges against Zuma citing political interference. Some political observes believe Mr. Mbeki's move is intended to clear his perceived tarnished reputation as well as that of his cabinet.
Mr. Mbeki wants the constitutional court to set aside judge Nicholson's inference of wrongdoing against him and his cabinet. This comes after the ANC sought and got Mr. Mbeki's resignation over his cabinet's alleged decision to reverse judge Nicholson's ruling in favor of Zuma.
Professor Shadrack Gutto is a South African constitutional law expert. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Mr. Mbeki finds himself in a difficult position.
"It is a move that is not surprising. You know judge Nicholson's ruling had mixed meanings. First of all it was quite correct in indicating that Jacob Zuma should have been given an opportunity to make certain representations to the National Prosecuting Authority before he was re-charged after the decision was made not to charge him in the first place. So, that is a clear constitutional provision and the judge was probably quite right on that," Gutto noted.
He said Mr. Mbeki's legal move is an attempt to clear his name and that of his cabinet on the allegations that he influenced the graft charges brought against ANC President Jacob Zuma.
"The judge went on to deal with many issues that really had not been properly dealt with in the court in terms of their merit. Here, we are dealing with questions around whether there was interference with the National Prosecuting Authority to direct them to target Jacob Zuma. So, I believe that it is one of trying to clear his name and to clear his administration," He said.
Gutto said Mr. Mbeki's attempt to clear his name might not go down well with unity among partisans of the ruling party.
"It will not necessarily play positively in some camps that would like the matter to rest and who are happy that the judge made the remark that he made. And in fact, it is part of those remarks that were used by the party factions that removed him from power and for that those who were happy with those remarks obviously would be disappointed that the matter is going to be appealed. For those who thought that the judge went too far, and therefore gave ammunition to those who wanted to remove him (Mr. Mbeki) they would be happy that there is such a move. So, it is not one that is going to please everybody, but there is a lot at stake here whether he (Mr. Mbeki) should keep quiet because if he does, then it would be on record that there was interference," Gutto pointed out.
He said some supporters of Zuma were unhappy after he was sacked as deputy state president for allegedly taking kickbacks in some deals.
"Yes, I think that is a legitimate concern and indeed one where people would have said they should have waited, but at the same time if that was done particularly where there was a clear indication and evidence in court, not against Zuma, but against person who he had relationships with. And the judge found quite correctly that there were intentions of bribery and so on," he said.