On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma will face off before a full court at the Johannesburg High Court.
Ramaphosa petitioned the court in a civil issue for an urgent restraining order against Zuma’s private prosecution. The dispute between the former statesman and the president stems from the dispute between Zuma and Karyn Maughan and Billy Downer.
Zuma initiated a private prosecution against Ramaphosa on the eve of the December ANC elective conference. Mzwanele Manyi, a spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, revealed at the time that the former president is suing his successor in respect to his case against Downer, the state prosecutor, and Media24 journalist Maughan, whom he claims illegally disclosed his medical information.
In his corruption case, the foundation claimed that Ramaphosa was “an accessory after the fact to the crimes committed by, among others, advocate Downer, namely breaching the provisions of the NPA Act.”
However, the Presidency has rejected the allegations, arguing that Zuma is misusing the judicial system and that the charges are “frivolous and unfounded.”
Ramaphosa submitted an urgent interdict application in which he stated that, pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Act, a private prosecution can only be initiated when the prosecutor has secured a certificate of non-prosecution.
“According to the Criminal Procedure Act, a private prosecution cannot be initiated unless the prosecutor has obtained a certificate of non-prosecution,” the Presidency stated at the time.
“The certificate serves as legal confirmation that the NPA will not pursue prosecution after reviewing the charges.”
“Mr. Zuma has not produced such a certificate with allegations in the name of President Ramaphosa. The summons sent to the president is inexcusably deficient and indicates blatant disrespect for the law.”
In the presidential showdown, Ramaphosa’s legal team will have to persuade and establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Zuma’s continued criminal and private prosecution of him violates his constitutional rights and will cause irreparable harm.
The case was originally scheduled to be tried before a single judge, but the Jacob Zuma Foundation announced on Tuesday that the South Gauteng High Court will hear the case with a full bench.
According to a court document obtained by Sunday World, deliberations with the deputy judge president led in a determination that the case be heard in person by a full bench.
According to Manyi, this presidential civil conflict is a waste of time. Manyi stated on Tuesday that Ramaphosa’s dispute is “frivolous, given that the main case [private prosecution] is scheduled for January 19.”
“This private prosecution has gone from being ridiculed as something to be ignored to something so significant that a full bench is now required,” Manyi remarked on the foundation’s WhatsApp group.
“It will be interesting to observe how the entire bench will handle a deficient affidavit from the head of state. In spite of the fact that it is a positive development that the advice for president Ramaphosa to disregard the summons has been revealed to be fundamentally flawed and beyond his authority, one hopes that, given the Zuma laws to which we have been subjected, this is not a precursor to further shenanigans.
“Why would the judiciary itself request a full bench for such a frivolous case?” Typically, one of the parties will initiate such a request.
“Could this be one of those extraordinary or exclusive treatments reserved for the eminent president Ramaphosa? Would an ordinary citizen receive such consideration? Are we all equal in the eyes of the law?