Some of the original whistleblowers who lifted the lid on corruption surrounding the notorious arms deal almost 20 years ago say they are hopeful that former president Jacob Zuma will finally stand trial.
This comes ahead of an announcement by National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams scheduled for 3.30pm on Friday, in which he will announce his decision on whether or not 18 charges containing 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering will be brought against Zuma.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille recalled the almost 20-year journey leading to this decision.
De Lille, at the time a PAC MP, brought a motion in Parliament regarding alleged irregularities in the arms deal. This happened on September 9, 1999, and the motion was tabled just weeks later.
We reiterate our call that Shaun Abrahams must reinstate the #ZumaCharges, and immediately step down as head of the NPA. Nothing will restore confidence in the NPA & the credibility of its working than the resignation of Shaun Abrahams.— #RegisterToVoteEFF (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) March 16, 2018
"I still remember the exact day I took that motion to Parliament. A few months ago, I looked at that motion again. I remember two weeks before the 2009 national elections, when the charges were dropped, the feeling of disappointment I had," De Lille said.
"Today is the big day. The NPA has already asked me if I am prepared to give evidence, and I said yes. Zuma always wanted his day in court; now he will have it."
Former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein, who was a vocal critic of the governing party's decision not to investigate the arms deal allegations and author of "The Shadow World: Inside The Global Arms Trade", said Abrahams' decision will have a "massive" impact on South Africa's democracy.
Abrahams is in the NPA post unlawfully, if he decides to prosecute, Zuma lawyers can challenge it using this, and hence I believe he might not prosecute. But I'm not a lawyer..#ZumaCharges— Ms_Gupta🇿🇦 (@African_Spring) March 16, 2018
"Whichever way it goes, the decision will have a huge impact on South Africa's democracy. I have no doubt that there is overwhelming evidence against Zuma... If a decision is made not to prosecute, it will be evident that there is political pressure," Feinstein said.
"That will be the final nail in the coffin for South Africa's democracy and rule of law."
The DA's James Selfe said if the NPA decides not to prosecute Zuma, the party will approach the courts to have the decision reviewed and set aside.