South African opposition political
parties have sharply condemned the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA)
decision to drop corruption charges against African National Congress (ANC)
leader Jacob Zuma. They are vowing to seek legal recourse ahead of the April
22nd election. The NPA announced Monday it was dropping graft charges against
a long legal battle that had raised doubts over Zuma's ability to govern if
elected president. The
opposition parties claim the dropping of the eight year old corruption case
against Zuma leaves South Africa's democracy in peril. Zuma supporters have
maintained the charges were politically motivated aimed to prevent him from
becoming South Africa's next president.
Constitutional law expert Professor
Shadrak Gutto tells reporter Peter Clottey the opposition has a slim chance of
winning a legal case against Zuma.
there are probably two alternatives of what anyone can do whether they are with
the opposition or not. One is to be able to see the avenue of private
prosecution of Jacob Zuma and that can be pursued within the law that an
individual or an entity may institute private prosecution. Where the National
Prosecuting Authority is not willing to do so and in this case they would have
a strong case because the National Prosecuting Authority indicated that on merit,
there is a very strong case against Jacob Zuma," Gutto noted.
He said the opposition can
also go after the prosecuting authority for failing to press charges against
"The other basically is to
take a legal action which is not a criminal one against the National
Prosecuting Authority to get a declaration that the National Prosecuting
Authority did not act in a way that is constitutional," he said.
Gutto said although the
opposition is allowed to legally pursue charges against the ANC leader, chances
of the of success are slender
"If they pursue the private
prosecution, the chances are slim because first of all this is a very
complicated cases involving racketeering, corruption and so many other criminal
groupings that the evidence is with the
National Prosecuting Authority. So, whoever is going to try private prosecution
must get full the cooperation of the National Prosecuting Authority which at
this stage I don't think they will get or we can presume they won't get . So,
from that point of view pursuing that line will definitely score political
points, but it will not yield the proper result of having a really a genuine
prosecution process," Gutto pointed out.
He said there are no clear
indications that the charges dropped against the leader of the ANC would be
beneficial or not ahead of April 22 general election, which the ruling party is
overwhelmingly expected to win.
"It is very difficult to
call because all along even when these charges were on already, there was a
split in public opinion. Those who are diehard supporters of the ANC and its
strategic alliances would still go on irrespective of what happens. Then the
other are those who think that institutions of justice are being undermined and
that Jacob Zuma has been trying to use the government to put pressure to try
and weaken the National Prosecuting Authority
and so on. And they will continue to be even more reinforced in their
belief that that is what has happened at the moment. And o from that point of
view one can say that it is not one which is automatically going to benefit the
ANC in the elections, but at the same time you can't say it is one that is
substantially decrease the prospect of the ANC in the election," he said.
Monday's announcement by the NPA to drop all graft charges
against Zuma followed
weeks of media reports that the charges would be dropped amid news that
prosecutors were considering new representations in the case.
opposition parties described as unfortunate the decision by the NPA to drop the
graft charges against Zuma with less than two weeks before the general
election. They called on the ANC leader to clear his name in court, saying the the NPA has bowed to
intense political pressure from the ruling party.
Jacob Zuma was facing 16
charges linked to a multi-billion rand government arms deal, including
racketeering, money-laundering, two of corruption and 12 of fraud. But the NPA
said Monday that the case was closed and no further charges would be brought
against Zuma. The announcement paves the way for him to become South Africa's
next president without the prospect of impending prosecution.
Some South African political
observers believe dropping the charges on what they described as a mere
technicality without establishing Zuma's innocence meant the eight-year-old
allegations of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering would
continue to dog him.
is widely expected to become South Africa's next president due to the
overwhelming majority the ruling ANC party enjoys despite anticipated stiff
challenge from the opposition.