South African Court Dismisses Jacob Zuma ‘Spy Tape’ Appeal

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an application by President Jacob Zuma to prevent the release of so-called “spy tapes” that prompted a decision to drop corruption charges against him in 2009.

The National Prosecuting Authority must hand over tapes made by intelligence agencies of prosecution officials’ conversations about the case within five days, the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said today in an e-mailed statement after the judgment.

Charges against Zuma relating to an attempted bribe in an arms deal were dropped in April 2009, a month before he became president. That was after prosecutors said the recorded conversations, which happened as Zuma was campaigning to become leader of the African National Congress in December 2007, suggested the reason to pursue the case was political.

“If the tapes show there was not enough reason to drop the charges against Zuma, he will be prosecuted, either by the NPA or by an outside party like the DA,” Piet Croucamp, a political science lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone today. “There is already so much negative momentum against Zuma, including the Nkandla saga.”

The NPA “has noted that judgment has been delivered,” spokesman Nathi Mncube said in a text message. “We will have to study the judgment. At this point we reserve our comments.”

The ANC “trust that today’s outcome will bring the matter closer to finality,” party spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in an e-mailed statement.

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