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Another Court Showdown For Zuma And Downer

Former president Jacob Zuma is set to square off against state advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan in court again on Friday.

Last September, Zuma served the two with summonses to appear for private prosecution over his claims that the state had “leaked” Maughan what he deems to be a confidential doctor’s note during the course of his arms deal corruption trial, which Downer is the lead prosecutor on.

Last month, the Pietermaritzburg High Court set aside the summonses as unlawful but Zuma has since filed a notice of intention to appeal that order, effectively suspending it.

Downer and Maughan have now approached the court on an urgent basis in a bid to have the order declared immediately enforceable, though.

In order to secure such an order, they have to show there are exceptional circumstances.

In support of this, Downer in his papers pointed to Zuma’s Stalingrad strategy.

“An application for leave to appeal the full court judgment will be part of the same Stalingrad tactic aimed at delaying the commencement of the criminal trial yet again, at worst, and, at best, avoiding it altogether,” he said.

He also pointed to Zuma’s latest application for his removal – which is set down to be argued next month and is largely rooted in the fact that the former president is now privately prosecuting Downer.

“Should the application for my removal be argued on the basis that I remain an accused in Mr Zuma’s private prosecution, despite the full court’s emphatic finding that the private prosecution is an abuse and the summons set aside, I and the State will suffer irreparable harm,” he said.

In addition, he highlighted that without the court’s intervention, he would still have to appear in the dock for the next scheduled sitting of the private prosecution next week.

“That appearance will signify the continuation of the private prosecution, in circumstances where a full bench of this court has declared it unlawful and set it aside. I personally will suffer the irreparable harm of again appearing as an accused in the abusive private prosecution. Such appearance will further irreparably undermine confidence in the courts and in the administration of justice”.

The application is set down for hearing on Friday together with another, similar application from Maughan.

In a statement this week, Mzwanele Manyi – the spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation – said the former president was opposing the case “on the grounds that it is not urgent, it is premature and no exceptional circumstances have been established”.