Zuma tapes no-show
President Jacob Zuma's lawyers yesterday failed to meet a court cut-off date to submit an affidavit about the existence and contents of the controversial spy tapes - seven months after the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the National Prosecution Authority to release its transcripts.
Zuma's lawyer and special adviser Michael Hulley has, according to acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba, been in possession of full transcripts of the recordings since April but has not released them to the authorities.
Neither Hulley nor presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj could be reached for comment yesterday.
DA MP James Selfe, who successfully lodged a court case to obtain the recordings on behalf of his party, said last night the DA had not received any documentation or tapes from Zuma.
The reluctance to shed light on the spy tapes might result in:
- The DAasking the courts to proceed with a high court case to test the NPA's decision to drop charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud and money-laundering against Zuma before the 2009 election;
- COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota calling for Zuma's impeachment over his alleged disregard for the constitution and rule of law; and
- Former Special Investigating Unit deputy Faiek Davids questioning the existence and legality of the tapes.
Selfe said Zuma's "lack of respect for the rule of law" placed the DA in a "very difficult position".
"We will have to approach the court to proceed with the case without the documents or tapes. This is absolutely inappropriate," said Selfe.
Even he now has doubts that the tapes exist.
"I'm not at all sure if they do. As each day passes it becomes more and more clear that there is no evidence, documents or tapes that the NPA's decision [to drop charges] were based on."
He said if the tapes did exist, the only possible explanation for the reluctance to release them was "a delaying tactic to avoid the case going to court before Mangaung".
The tapes have been a closely guarded state secret since their existence came to the fore in 2009 and have become a nightmare for Zuma and the NPA.
In April 2009, then acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe dropped corruption charges against Zuma after he made presentations to the NPA.
The DA has argued that the spy tapes - which allegedly contained intercepted recordings of conversations between senior political and judicial officials - and the controversy around the way in which the charges were subsequently dropped, could be put to rest if the matter were deliberated in a court.
Selfe said the matter had resulted in "unprecedented business" that raised serious questions about respect for the law.
Citing Zuma's "tangled" legal affairs and his failure to adhere to court orders, Lekota called on 50 parliamentarians to "rescue our country from hurtling into chaos under a president too self-centred to care what harm he causes and what danger he exposes [it to] ."
Lekota said he would garner opposition support to call for Zuma's impeachment.
Alongside the DA court matter is a Labour Court dispute involving former SIU head Willie Hofmeyr and Davids that goes to the heart of the spy tapes. The two men have been involved in a bitter legal wrangle after Hofmeyr fired Davids in 2010 over an alleged conversation that reportedly was included on the Zuma tapes.
Davids filed a labour dispute against the SIU in which Hofmeyr testified about the contents of a recorded conversation between Davids and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy.
Last year, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration ruled in Davids' favour, saying the spy tapes and intercepts of the conversations were obtained in contravention of the Regulation of Interception of Communication Act.
Davids now also questions the existence and authenticity of the tapes.
In an affidavit, Davids says not only did Hofmeyr rely on illegally obtained evidence to dismiss him, but the National Intelligence Agency has no record of his alleged conversation with McCarthy.
"Quite apart from the fact that if the evidence existed at all, it would have been illegally obtained and inadmissible, my objection to this evidence was further premised on the apparent reliance on certain assumptions that were not and are not conceded by me," Davids says.
He further states that the admission of "illegally obtained evidence would be detrimental to the furtherance of justice".
Davids stresses that at the time of filing the affidavit in July the recordings had still not surfaced, despite Hofmeyr pleading with the Office for Interception Centres for a copy in November last year.
ZUMA SPY TAPES TIMELINE
2007:Former Special Investigating Unit deputy head Faiek Davids and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy are recorded discussing the ANC leadership battles.
April 2009:Acting prosecuting authority head Mokotedi Mpshe drops corruption and fraud charges against Jacob Zuma. Mpshe finds that suspected connivance between McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka in relation to Zuma's case amounts to "intolerable abuse".
November 2010:Davids is axed following an apparently irreparable breakdown in trust between him and former Special Investigating Unit head Willie Hofmeyr.
September 2011: The spy tapes are declared illegal during a labour dispute between Hofmeyr and Davids.
April 2012:Supreme Court of Appeal orders the NPA to hand over transcripts of the tapes.
October 24:NPA and Zuma miss deadline to hand over transcripts of the tapes.