Former president Jacob Zuma has called on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to apply the rule of law “properly” in his arms deal corruption case.
“I don’t want to say much right now because we will say a lot in court when we return. This case is not fair and it has people who were conniving with law enforcement agencies, swearing at me, and yet they are in charge of the case,” Zuma said speaking in isiZulu.
He was speaking outside the High Court in Pietermaritzburg following the postponement of his trial to 26 May 2021.
The corruption trial was postponed after Zuma’s legal team, Mabuza Attorneys, severed ties with him in April just weeks before the long-anticipated start of the case.
Zuma’s new legal team led by Advocate Thabani Masuku told the court they needed time to familiarise themselves with the case. Masuku also said they intend to apply for NPA prosecutor Billy Downer’s recusal from the case on Wednesday.
Zuma gave thanks to the ANC leaders who came out in their numbers to support him in court.
He complained to his supporters that his corruption case had dragged on for far too long and repeated his claims that it is politically motivated.
‘I will die in the ANC’, says Magashule
Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who was also in court to support Zuma, said he would never leave nor be banned from the governing party. His address was in contravention of the terms of his suspension not to mobilise any structure of the ANC or any organisation or person on any ANC matters.
Magashule called on ANC supporters to come in their numbers when Zuma’s trial resumes to support the former ANC leader.
“Next time when we come here on the 26th of May, we will bring the whole Free State and KwaZulu-Natal here,” he said.
Magashule, who is charged with corruption in the Free State, last week took the ANC to court for suspending him and wants the High Court in Johannesburg to overturn his suspension.
Earlier, ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni said they owed no one an apology for being in court to support Zuma.
Yengeni claimed the NPA was being used to settle political scores within the ANC.
We’re not going to apologise to be here as members of the ANC to support comrade Jacob Zuma.
Zuma and his co-accused French arms dealer Thales are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal struck back when Zuma was KZN’s MEC for Economic Development, in the 1990s.
He is facing 16 counts – including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering – while Thales is facing four counts.
NPA spokesman Sipho Ngwema said they were also ready for trial and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille was is their first witness in the case.
De Lille blew the whistle on the multi-billion rand arms deal almost 22 years ago.
Ngwema said they had done all the necessary preparations and all its 217 witnesses were ready to testify.
Advocate Masuku said Zuma had always been ready to proceed with the trial and Thales’ legal representative, advocate Barry Roux, also told the court they were ready for trial.