From the news desk

Presidency mum on corruption reports

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There has been a veil of silence from the presidency following a number of reports on dropped charges against President Jacob Zuma for alleged corruption in 2009.

Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj has yet to respond to e-mailed questions sent to him on Friday and on Monday morning.

Beeld newspaper on Monday reported that Zuma used legal principles from former United States president Richard Nixon’s case to argue why corruption charges against him should be dropped.

This was according to an internal National Prosecuting Authority memorandum, written by former senior prosecutor Billy Downer, which the newspaper said it had in its possession.

Zuma was African National Congress president at the time and the national elections were being held in less than two months, where he would be elected president of the country.

Reference to Zuma’s representations, made by his attorney Michael Hulley, in the document made it clear that one of his arguments against prosecution was that he would soon be president and should he be prosecuted there might be a “constitutional crisis”.

The NPA document reportedly referred to page 78 of Zuma’s argument which referred to a case in the US’s court of appeal where Nixon argued that a president enjoyed exemption from legal processes and as a result he did not have to hand over recordings to investigators that implicated him.

In response to the argument, Downer reportedly shot back saying the allegations against Zuma were of the “most shocking corruption” which carried heavy penalties.

He argued that Nixon had not been granted the exemption, was threatened with impeachment and so he resigned.

In his memorandum to former NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe, Downer reportedly said that Zuma was not a serving president at the time and if he was elected it would have been done with the full knowledge of himself, the ANC and voters that serious criminal charges against him were pending.

On Friday, the Afrikaans daily reported that the graft case against Zuma carried “utmost gravity”, and that he was part of a broad corruption scheme intended to benefit the ANC in perpetuity.

The case against Zuma was strong and would also show that the ruling party was meant to be an “eternal beneficiary” in an “extended scheme of corruption”, Downer, who wanted to prosecute Zuma, wrote in a memorandum in 2009.

The memo was addressed to Mpshe, according to the newspaper report.

A month later, Mpshe dropped the corruption charges against Zuma.

Mpshe on Friday declined to comment on the report.

Mpshe announced on April 6, 2009, that the charges against Zuma would be dropped because there was a political conspiracy against him. SAPA

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