President Jacob Zuma’s “get out of jail” card – in avoiding prosecution on corruption charges – could ironically be questioning the credibility of auditing firm KPMG, the same firm which was used to try to trash the reputation of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
The auditing firm was responsible for a forensic report which forms part of the state’s case on 783 charges of corruption against Zuma, which the president has been avoiding for more than a decade.
KPMG admitted recently that a report on alleged criminal or unethical behaviour within the SA Revenues Service when Pravin Gordhan was commissioner, was wrong and withdrew it.
Subsequently, a number of senior members of the firm resigned. Its fall from grace now has provided a further opportunity for Zuma to challenge his prosecution.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed the bid by Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to appeal against a high court judgment that corruption charges against Zuma be reinstated.
The presidency said it expected that the recent withdrawal by KPMG of its report on the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service, which saw Gordhan briefly charged with fraud, should also bring into question the validity of the report used by the NPA to charge Zuma.
Gordhan’s spokesperson, Yolisa Tyantsi, was reluctant to comment on the presidency playing the victim card, saying Gordhan was not getting involved.
If the presidency wanted to question the integrity of KPMG, the firm should deal with that matter on its own, Tyantsi said.
Democratic Alliance (DA) federal chairperson James Selfe said Zuma and his team making representations to the NPA against prosecution by using KPMG’s ethical failures as an argument, was risky.
While the president was entitled, like any other citizen, to make representations, Selfe said, the KPMG report was only a reasonably small part of the entire case against Zuma.
He said even if that part of the evidence against him was discounted or somehow brought into question, he doubted it would in any material way, affect the rigour of the case.
“The fact of the matter is these are the same charges put to Zuma in 2007, and they haven’t changed, and at that time Zuma made representations and those were rejected.”
The opposition said it would be writing to NPA head Shaun Abrahams demanding that there be a formal indictment served on the president.
The UDM, which joined several opposition parties in welcoming the SCA’s decision, suggested that the ANC should now consider forcing Zuma to step down.