'Spy tapes a risk to Zuma's re-election'

Experts say new spy tapes may jeopardise Zuma's chances of re-election in Mangaung.

ANC President Jacob Zuma at the party's policy conference in Midrand on 26 June 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Legal experts on Sunday said new spy tapes that came to light in the past weekend may jeopardise President Jacob Zuma's chances of re-election at Mangaung.

The tapes suggest that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) did not act independently when deciding on prosecutions ahead of the ANC's Polokwane electoral conference in 2007.

The _Sunday Times _claims it has recordings of 35 phone calls between then Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy, other NPA top brass and former Deputy Justice Minister Johnny de Lange.

The taped conversations allegedly detail attempted interference by Thabo Mbeki's government in the prosecution of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Selebi was convicted of corruption on 2 July 2010, and sentenced to 15 years in jail by the South Gauteng High Court.

He has since been released on medical parole due to his battle with end-stage renal disease.

Legal expert Paul Hoffman said the timing of this revelation is designed to have an impact on what happens at the ANC's electoral conference in December.

He said he was certain the news pleased many Zuma lobbyists.

There is currently a fierce battle by Zuma's legal team to keep the full collection of spy tapes that assisted in the acquittal of corruption charges against him secret.