The end is (almost) nigh

President Jacob Zuma could face charges within a year.

As sure as the sun rises and sets every day, Jacob Zuma will have his day in court, in about a year’s time, give or take a couple of months.

The agonisingly long running saga of the so-called Spy Tapes finally came to a head when Mokotodei Mpshe’s 2009 decision to set aside the 783 charges faced by Jacob Zuma was declared irrational and illegal by the North Gauteng High Court in April.

In a trice, Jacob Zuma and the NPA applied for leave to appeal, and were turned down.

The NPA petitioned the Constitution Court for leave to appeal, citing constitutional grounds. Jacob Zuma petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) for leave to appeal.

On October 7, the Con Court said “It has concluded that it is not in the interests of justice for this Court to hear the matter at this stage.”

How come? Well, simply because the SCA, a lower court, has yet to respond to Jacob Zuma’s petition for leave to appeal in respect of the same matter. Now what?

Last Wednesday, the SCA agreed to hear legal argument as to why Jacob Zuma ought to be granted leave to appeal.

His legal team was advised that if leave to appeal is granted, the appeal will be argued at the same time. The parties must file documents within three months.

What are the chances of leave to appeal being granted? Well, if the same arguments are advanced that were used when applying for leave to appeal the North Gauteng High Court ruling, zero, according to legal experts.

Even if leave to appeal is granted – which the court may well do because of the political sensitivity of the matter – the likelihood of the April High Court ruling being overturned is virtually non-existent.

By this time, allowing about three months before the SCA hands down a ruling, we are six months down the track, and the NPA’s petition to the Con Court is still outstanding.

Inevitably, because he has deep pockets (courtesy of the public purse), and the need to delay for as long as possible, Jacob Zuma will also petition the Con Court to hear the matter on constitutional grounds.

Since both petitions – the NPA’s and Jacob Zuma’s – pertain to the same matter, they will either both be granted or denied. Again, because of political sensitivity, the Con Court may well choose to hear argument, like the SCA has agreed to do, as to why it should hear the matter.

Allowing for three months to file documents, the Con Court is likely to hear both argument in support of why it ought to hear the case, and if it agrees to hear the case, it will have the matter argued immediately.

Allowing a further three months before the Con Court hands down a ruling, which is most unlikely to be anything other than dismissing both appeals with costs, Jacob Zuma will have reached the end of the line.

He will have no further avenues of appeal, and his long-awaited day in court will have dawned, and this is where it gets interesting.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not up to the NPA to seek a court date. The matter is entirely out of Shaun Abrahams’ hands. The April High Court ruling means the charges against Jacob Zuma are automatically reinstated.

All that remains to be done, is for a court date to be allocated, and a judge appointed to hear the matter. That particular privilege falls to North Gauteng High Court judge president Dunstan Mlambo, and it would be hard to imagine there would be any delay in setting the matter down.

There is of course the possibility, remote as it might be, that Shaun Abrahams would choose to do as Mokotedi Mpshe did – set aside the charges – but in order to do so with any chance of success, he would have to come up with compelling new evidence to support his decision, and the likelihood of that evidence withstanding the test of judicial review, is at best, slim.

The Zuma camp has advanced every threadbare legal argument that it could in the last eight years, and the cupboard is finally bare.

Sometime late next year, or early 2018, the nation can make the popcorn, break out the cool-drink, and settle down on the sofa to watch the TV spectacle unfold, as Jacob Zuma finally gets his comeuppance.