The President, the Prosecutor and the Secular Priest: Corruption, Politics and the Courts - Jacob Zuma v National Director of Public Prosecution
32 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2008 Last revised: 18 Jan 2009
Date Written: November 1, 2008
Like Bush v Gore in the United States, the decision of Justice Nicholson in Jacob Zuma v National Director of Public Prosecution will undoubtedly be seen as a pivotal case in South Africa's political history. The decision stayed the prosecution of Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ANC, and concluded that former President Thabo Mbeki had interfered in the prosecution process. Within a week of the judgment being handed down, Mbeki was forced to resign as President of South Africa. His resignation led to the split within the African National Congress (ANC) and the formation of a new opposition party. The case has now been turned over on appeal and, needless to say, there has been widespread political debate about the decision. But what did the Nicholson judgment really say? Given the political furore sparked by the judgment, it is important to look very carefully at the legal questions, notably related to public law, at the centre of the case. It is important also to note just how far the judgment entered into the political fray, and to assess the extent to which this was legally required. This was a complex case, both factually and legally, and this article is an attempt to render it accessible to a wider audience, both within and outside South Africa.
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