Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist


Zuma pursuing private prosecution against Ramaphosa as ‘last resort’ – Manyi

'The criminal case is alive in parallel with the civil proceedings,' says Jacob Zuma Foundation's Mzwanele Manyi.


Mzwanele Manyi says former president Jacob Zuma decided to pursue private prosecution against President Cyril Ramphosa because there was no other option.

On Thursday, Zuma’s private prosecution case on Thursday was postponed to 26 May, by the Johannesburg High Court.

The former president physically appeared in court even though Ramaphosa was granted an urgent interdict this week.

The court on Monday interdicted Zuma from proceeding with his case against Ramaphosa, pending the president’s application to have the private prosecution scrapped.

Appeal

But according to Zuma’s lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, the interdict only exempted Ramaphosa from appearing in court.

Mpofu told Judge Ismail Mahomed on Thursday that Zuma had to be present in court in order to avoid the private prosecution being struck off the court roll or dismissed.

“So it is that last part that really brings us before your lordship for the court to adjourn or postpone the case to a later date,” he said.

The advocate also informed the court that Zuma had instructed his legal team to appeal the interdict ruling.

ALSO READ: Zuma to challenge Ramaphosa’s interdict, private prosecution case postponed

However, he added that they were still deciding whether to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court or whether to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

After the adjournment, Manyi, who is the spokesperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, told the media outside the court that the former president appeal sought to set aside Ramaphosa’s interdict.

“We are appealing the interdict… the non-presence of the accused,” he said.

Manyi also provided clarity on why the private prosecution was going forward despite Monday’s ruling.

“The criminal case is alive in parallel with the civil proceedings. This is the reason the criminal court has set another date,” he continued.

“As things stand, there is no finality on the nolle prosequi dispute, on the legality of the summons and all of that. But all of those things are not ruling out the case.”

‘Confused process’

Manyi later said: “Once you set aside the interdict, it means that all the arguments that President Ramaphosa wants to have, he can have them in the criminal court.

“Right now we have an unnecessary situation where we have two courts dealing with the same matter and yet if you appeal, and [the interdict] is struck off, it does not mean he cannot continue with his arguments in the criminal court.

“He can still do that and that is what we have been advising from day one. That these arguments can be made in a criminal court, there is no point in doing this confused process.”

RELATED: How Jacob Zuma is funding his private prosecution against Downer and Maughan

According to Manyi, Zuma’s decision to pursue private prosecution against Ramaphosa was the “last resort”.

“When you write letters to the president, when you do all the submissions that were made before… this is an attempt to do things outside the court. But when people don’t do what they are suppose to do then we have the situation that we have now. [Former] president Zuma is here because this is now a last resort,” he added.

Background

The former president wants to prosecute Ramaphosa, arguing he was an “accessory after the fact” in relation to charges he is pursuing against senior state prosecutor Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan.

Zuma alleged that Ramaphosa committed a criminal offence by not acting against Downer and Maughan when he lodged a complaint with the Presidency’s office on 19 August 2021.

READ MORE: ‘Ramaphosa received preferential treatment’, says Jacob Zuma Foundation

However, the president says he did not commit any crime because he wrote to Zuma’s legal team on 25 August 2021, informing them that the matter had been referred to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, and he had asked him to refer the complaint to the Legal Practice Council (LPC).

He also argued that no nolle prosequi certificate was issued against him by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), saying Zuma’s move was an “abuse of private prosecution process”.

Ramaphosa’s part B of his review application, which is challenging the legitimacy of Zuma’s private prosecution, is set to be heard on 17 and 18 May.