‘Baring my soul’: Mbeki demonised me, says Zuma
From arms deal to rape charges, former president says he has been subjected to a 'Hollywood-style prosecution process'
A permanent stay of prosecution is a most extraordinary application “but circumstances don’t get much more extraordinary than this”, former president Jacob Zuma says.
In a 300-page application, filed with the Durban High Court in his bid to quash corruption charges against him, Zuma says he is “baring his soul” for the first time.
And he points the finger of blame for his “demonisation” at his political enemies led by former president Thabo Mbeki who managed to sway police investigators, prosecutions bosses, editors and the public into believing that he is the face of corruption in SA.
In an affidavit which, in part, reads like a political speech, he lists “serious pretrial irregularities, blatant prosecutorial bias, undue delay and political manipulation”, as legal reasons why he should be granted the stay.
He also complains the state is refusing to provide him with vital documentation in order to put his case forward properly and to prepare for trial.
Zuma was charged with corruption – relating to the arms deal case in which his former friend Schabir Shaik was convicted – in April this year and has made two court appearances.
On Friday he will appear again when a date is expected to be set for the hearing of his stay application.
He says he has been subjected to a “Hollywood” style prosecution process, both in this matter and in the trial where he was charged with raping the daughter of a friend, and acquitted.
“Arrests were announced in the media in order to maximise my humiliation. I have been tried in the court of public opinion as a result of an ‘anti-Zuma narrative’ .”
And it was all done to gain political mileage for Mbeki through “the most grotesque and egregious forms of political manipulation and interference”.
“This has haunted me for years. I was charged (in the arms deal matter) even though I was nowhere near that process.
“The decision not to charge me along with Shaik was carefully crafted. They were using it as a dry run. Instead I was found guilty in absentia.
“This prosecution on which almost a decade has been spent on investigation, costing many hundreds of millions rands, is not about corruption in the arms deal.
“It is about an alleged (unimplemented) agreement that I be paid money to protect (arms company) Thint against a fallout. But there was no corruption in the deal.
“And even if the allegations are true, which are wholly denied, my involvement in the deal was extremely insignificant and after the fact. I am not accused of any untoward conduct in procuring an award for some bidder or providing assistance to it.
“The truth is, had I been tried along with Shaik, I would have been acquitted.”
Even the rape charge was laid to “rule me out of the 2007 ANC presidential race” after he became an obvious contender for the position in 2013.
“It has all resulted in society believing that those accusing me are paragons of virtue and I am a symbol of corruption.
“But there is still a large section of SA society which has not been fooled and still considers me as their leader.
“I have never betrayed my people. I am saying for the first time how I feel.”
Referring to the constitutional duties of the office of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) and the code of conduct, Zuma said they had to act without fear or favour “and criminal prosecution should not be used to eliminate political opponents”.
“There comes a point where, indeed, enough is enough,” he said, lashing out at prosecutor Billy Downer and private advocate Wim Trengove (both part of the prosecutorial team) for making public statements about his alleged guilt.
With regards to prejudice, Zuma says the indictment has still not been finalised and the NDPP is withholding information such as records of the decision to prosecute Shaik and “accounting records for any payments made to (rape accuser) Kwezi”.
With regards to the media, he said that since 1999 there had been about 55,000 articles written about him and from 2003 onwards most had been hostile. These press reports, he believed, had also influenced the judiciary in some respects.
“The presumption of innocence has been negated by all of this,” he said, arguing that he was entitled to a stay of prosecution.
The NDPP is yet to file opposing papers.