South Africa's ruling African National Congress is
expressing its displeasure with the National Prosecuting Authority in what it
described as its casting aside all pretence of professionalism or
political neutrality in the corruption case against the president of the party.
This comes after the chairman of the prosecuting authority suggested in an
interview that the agency's case against the ANC leader has become difficult to
handle due to its political nature. Mokotedi Mpshe said the judge who recently
threw out the corruption charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma, citing
political manipulation was wrong in his ruling. From the capital, Pretoria,
South African political analyst Somadoda Fikeni tells reporter Peter Clottey
that the ANC is treating the remark as supporting its long held view that Zuma
is being subjected to political persecution.
(ANC general Secretary Gwede Mantashe) is expressing the sentiments of the
current ANC leadership, which had hoped that after Nicholson's (South African
Judge who threw away the graft charges against the leader of the ANC) judgment
the matter would be laid to rest and then Zuma would then go to the presidency
without all these legal hurdles. So that the director has shown such
determination that they are appealing and not only that, but they would also
pursue the case against Zuma. I'm sure that has angered a number of ANC people
who thought the matter was closed," Fikeni pointed out.
said the chairman of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is within his
right to make comments about the case against the ANC leader.
definitely has a right to do that and as such what the NPA has been trying to
do is to assert its autonomy from the executive and from the political
pressures just like other entities within the country such as the justice
system that has come under pressure due to the Zuma case and many other aspects
of this transitional period. So all what he was trying to do is to assert that
autonomy of the institution and also to state that the judgment itself was
wrong to make assumption that there had been some interference in the work of
the NPA by the political heads," he said.
said there seem to be sharp differences in South Africa's society over the
corruption charges against the President of the ANC Jacob Zuma.
"There is quite a division
within the society. There are those who are actually puzzled by Zuma's appeal
after appeal because they say if he had nothing to hide, he would avail himself
and let this process go through. But there are those who feel that the case has
gone on for too long. Therefore it would not be any justice against Zuma after
so many years when these charges were hanging over his head. So the society
itself is as divided on this matter as the political parties are," Fikeni
He said the ANC president
would be facing serious legal challenges if he wins the presidency in next
year's election with his ongoing legal corruption problems.
"Definitely, this would be
quite a complex issue. In fact, the opposition parties are going to raise the
issue of values of leaders, the ethics and all that which the ANC would not be
very comfortable with, especially, at a time when Zuma is facing all these
legal hurdles. Once he (Zuma) becomes president and the charges go ahead, that
is going to create a lot of friction between the judiciary and the executive
branch," he said.
Fikeni reiterated that
Zuma's possible presidency might be inhibited by his legal challenges, although
the ruling might seek some relief to allow his him room to carry out his
mandate as South Africa's president.
"It would also create many
challenges for him because he cannot discharge his role without being disrupted
by the court cases. And that in itself you might even have some of the ANC
members looking for a special dispensation that would cover him while he is a
sitting president, as was the case with Silvio Berlusconi in Italy," Fikeni
ANC said Mpshe's remark effectively admits that the National Prosecuting
Authority is pursuing a political vendetta against ANC President Zuma.
secretary general of the African National Congress Gwede Mantashe said Mpshe's
statement is ample evidence that he and the NPA had very little regard for the
rule of law and for the ruling of the judiciary. He added that Mpshe's
statement that he would hold judge Chris Nicholson wrong even 14 years from now
means he would insist on holding that position regardless of the outcome of the
appeal the NPA is currently pursuing.