Zuma 'delaying the inevitable' on spy tapes

The President will appeal a high court ruling compelling the NPA to hand over copies of the Zuma spy tapes.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma answers questions in Parliament. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Legal academics and the Democratic Alliance (DA) say President Jacob Zuma's decision to appeal last week's court ruling on the Zuma spy tapes is simply an attempt to delay the inevitable.

On Thursday, Zuma's lawyers officially indicated they would attempt to overturn last week's ruling by the North Gauteng High Court ordering the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hand over the tapes to the DA by the end of today.

The court found that Zuma failed to produce evidence which proved that disclosure of the tapes prejudiced him in any way.

The DA has been fighting for access to the transcripts that were used by the NPA to drop corruption charges against President Zuma in 2009.

The NPA claimed the tapes showed Zuma was the victim of a political conspiracy and thus withdrew the charges against him.

The tapes are understood to be recordings of conversations between former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy about the timing of when to charge Zuma with corruption.

Law Professor Shadrack Gutto said President Zuma is simply playing with the legal system.

"It's a question of really trying to play around with legal rules and regulations."

Gutto said Zuma was not playing fair.

"It is ducking and diving and it is really bad. But I believe they are trying to use every loophole."

University of Cape Town (UCT) Law Dean Professor Hugh Corder is also not impressed, saying Zuma's actions are "an echo of the repeated use of litigation to stave off what seems to me to be inevitable".

The DA James Selfe is frustrated and said the party would "certainly continue to contest this matter; however long it takes and whatever it costs."

Selfe said the entire issue raises questions about the NPA.

"We need a [prosecuting body] that is able to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice."

Earlier this week, Selfe said he believed the DA's legal efforts to obtain copies of the tapes have been intentionally frustrated.

"Every time we think we are going to get what the court has ordered us to get, it seems that further legal obstacles are placed in our way."

Selfe said if the NPA did decide to appeal last week's court ruling, it would almost certainly ask for the recordings to be handed over while that appeal was being heard.

Zuma hasn't yet explained why he now doesn't want the tapes to be released.