Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation. This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.
Mr Jacob Zuma’s lawyers must be worried by the application of President Thabo Mbeki to the Constitutional Court as they have now indicated that they will opppose the application. I am in Berlin at the moment so do not have access to South African newspapers, but from the IOL report it seems that after intensive deliberations the Zuma lawyers decided to oppose.
If they had thought there was no chance of this application succeeding and given the fact that Thabo Mbeki has already been ousted, one might have thought they would have allowed him to go on a frolick of his own without spending more energy on this application.
But perhaps they worry that the highest court will slam the Nicholson judgment and therefore feel that for political reasons they have to oppose the application. This is a rather weird case as Zuma will now oppose an application to appeal a judgment by a person who was not a party to the original application by Zuma.
The decision is an admission, it seems to me, that Zuma has a great interest in ensuring that the inferences made by Nicholson about political interference in his trial is not overturned. Perhaps this is because these inferences will assist Zuma’s lawyers if they want to bring an application for a permanent stay of prosecution.
They might be worried that the Constitutional Court will find that these applications by Zuma have been frivolous and premature and that he was delaying his trial in order to avoid his day in Court. It will be interesting to read their papers and to see what they will say to support the findings of Nicholson that there might have been political interference in the charging of Zuma.
Perhaps they know that this is not over yet and that the NPA still has a trick or two up its sleeve. Of course us tax payers are paying the legal fees for the application and for Mr Zuma’s response. Some might well wonder whether this is the best way to spend our money but for the two sides this seems to be a fight to the bitter end.
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