South Africa’s official opposition is considering prosecuting ANC president Jacob Zuma privately for alleged arms deal corruption.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said on Tuesday if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decline to prosecute ANC president Jacob Zuma, the DA will look at bringing a private prosecution against him.

Zille’s comments follow the Pietermaritzburg High Court’s judgment last Friday that the NPA’s prosecution of Zuma was unconstitutional because the correct procedures were not followed. She warned that the NPA had a constitutional obligation to proceed with charges against Zuma, especially if it believed it had a prima facie case against him.

Speaking at a media briefing at Parliament in Cape Town she said it would be a miscarriage of justice if Zuma were to get off the hook due to a legal technicality.

“Should the NPA decline to prosecute, the DA will investigate the option of private prosecution.”

She stressed that her party would first wait until the legal process currently underway had played itself out before doing so. “We need to let the institutions of state work their way through this. If they fail us… that is the point where we have to draw the line.”

There was provision in South African law for such a private prosecution. “We, as the official opposition, have to look at all the provisions in law that enable us to prevent a situation from arising where a person who has severe corruption allegations hanging over him could become the president of South Africa.

“We need to be sure that a court has pronounced him innocent before he assumes that office, and if a court finds him guilty, that he has no chance of assuming that office.

“Because if somebody guilty of such serious corruption charges is in the highest office in this country, then the rot will quickly consolidate itself in the body politic, and it will be a disaster for everybody,” she said.