Zuma charges: pressure on Shaun Abrahams mounts

NPA national director Shaun Abrahams
NPA national director Shaun Abrahams

Pressure is mounting on National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams to announce his decision on whether former president Jacob Zuma will be prosecuted.

Reports have indicated that he will charge Zuma with corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering. But he told Parliament on Wednesday that he could not reveal his decision publicly until he had informed the former president.

There was speculation that Abrahams would let Zuma know his decision on Thursday, but the NPA refused to confirm this. Spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said it would violate Zuma’s rights if the NPA were to say when he would be informed.

“We won’t tell anyone whether we have informed the [former] president…. We have to operate within the frame of [the law],” he said.

Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, did not respond to a request for comment on whether his client had yet been informed about whether he would be charged or not.

If Abrahams fails to reinstate the charges against Zuma, lobby group AfriForum has already indicated that it would take all “reasonable steps” to ensure that he was prosecuted. CEO Kallie Kriel said in February that if the NPA refused to charge Zuma the group’s private prosecuting unit headed by former state prosecutor Gerrie Nel would institute private prosecution.

DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said his party had asked the national director of public prosecutions to also inform it of his decision. The DA made its own representations to the NPA on why Zuma should be prosecuted. The DA had not received a response from Abrahams to its request.

Selfe, however, said the party would insist that the national director of public prosecutions furnish it with his reasons for his decision. The DA wanted Abrahams to make an announcement as soon as possible.

“I think it is in the interests of justice for decisions of this nature to be made as soon as possible, bearing in mind that things have dragged on for 10 years nearly,” he said.

In February, Abrahams informed the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution that he had made a decision. He gave the council an undertaking that he would give it two weeks’ notice before announcing it.

The deadline ended on Thursday, after the council’s application to interdict Abrahams from making the announcement was dismissed by the apex court.

The EFF has called on Abrahams to make the announcement as soon as possible and at the same time resign. This was because the High Court in Pretoria had reviewed and set aside his appointment as NPA head. The Constitutional Court is yet to hand down judgment in a confirmation application on this.

“Nothing will restore the confidence in the NPA and the rule of law than Zuma being charged and Abrahams stepping down,” EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said. “This will give the NPA a clear opportunity to rebuild its confidence lost under the Zuma years.”