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Zuma’s legal team still has more hurdles

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Team yet to decide whether or not it should proceed with appeal

WITH former President Jacob Zuma being showered with praises from some quarters for finally agreeing to abandon all his legal fights and allow his arms deal corruption trial to get underway, his legal team still has more hurdles.

The legal team is yet to decide whether or not it should proceed with Zuma’s appeal regarding his permanent stay of prosecution application which is currently before the Constitutional Court for its consideration. 

The appeal was lodged after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed it without even hearing his lawyers, arguing that it had no prospect of success. That was after a similar ruling by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in November last year.  

Now with Zuma announcing on Sunday that he had changed his legal team by bringing in Johannesburg lawyer Eric Mabuza (in the place of Advocate Daniel Mantsha) to work with Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, SC questions were asked about the appeal. 

In a very brief response to Independent Media yesterday (Mon), Mabuza said no decision has been taken and as soon as they decide, the public will be notified accordingly. 

“We will soon let you know about the fate of the appeal,” Mabuza said when asked whether Zuma has given them instructions about the appeal. 

However, based on the statement issued by the Jacob Zuma Foundation on behalf of Zuma when announcing the changing of the lawyers, the appeal appears likely to be abandoned as he characterised the upcoming trial as the trial of his life. Furthermore, Zuma said he wants to dispel the notion that by exercising his constitutionally guaranteed legal rights, he was stalling the trial. 

While the nation awaits the decision regarding the appeal, RET (Radical Economic Transformation) Champion, one of the most fervent supporters of Zuma, hailed him for finally allowing the trial to proceed so that he could state his side of the story in court. The forum’s national chairperson, Nkosentsha Shezi, said for far too long Zuma has been “vilified and tried by kangaroo courts” and declared him a criminal. 

“As RET Champion and part of the forces of Radical Economic Transformation we welcome the decision of President Jacob Zuma to go ahead with his trial. For too long he has not been afforded an opportunity to exercise his rights just like any citizen of the country would,” Shezi said. 

With Zuma’s next court appearance due on May 6 at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, his supporters are frustrated by the Covid-19 lockdown and are unable to meet and prepare to mobilise supporters to go to court. Bishop Vusi Dube, one of the chief organisers of Zuma’s supporters in KZN yesterday said also further complicating matters was that they are not certain whether the lockdown will be extended or not. 

“Until we know what is going to happen with the lockdown, we are unable to make any plans. Secondly, we are not sure whether the case will proceed or not on the said date. So that makes things difficult for us as we cannot make any plans. However, if the lockdown is eased, we will be there to support him,” Dube said.