Zuma to face charges, SA High Court rules

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s President, should face corruption charges over a 1999 arms deal, the High Court has ruled.

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Jacob Zuma is facing a growing chorus for him to step down amid a slew of scandals.

The charges meanwhile had been dropped just weeks before the 2009 election which led to Jacob Zuma becoming president.

Ruling on the case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance, the judge said the decision to drop the charges was “irrational”.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) now has to decide if it wants to reinstate the charges.

Mr Zuma always denied the allegations which are linked to the government arms deal worth billions of dollars.

Last week, a judge-led commission of inquiry found no evidence of corruption or fraud by any government officials at the time.

“Today is a great victory for the rule of law and ultimately we believe that Jacob Zuma must face prosecution and this judgement certainly affirms the view that we’ve always held,” Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said after the ruling.

“I congratulate my colleagues who’ve worked exceptionally hard on this case; it’s been a long battle.”

This may be the latest in a series of legal blows to President Jacob Zuma but it is not yet time to celebrate for the opposition DA, which brought the case.

The NPA will have to decide if it wants to reinstate the charges. As the judge ruled the NPA’s prosecution of this case has been heavily politicised – and it is not clear whether it will want to take on the president.

Mr Zuma, 74, may be under increasing pressure from opposition parties to step down but he is not going without a fight. In spite of the knock to his public image, he still has a place in the hearts of many in South Africa. The ruling ANC secured a huge victory in the 2014 election – many of the votes coming from rural South Africa where these court battles have little influence and Mr Zuma knows that.

An opposition attempt to impeach him earlier this month failed because they simply do not have the numbers. The president would take note only if voters rose up against him – local elections later this year will be the real indication of whether any ground has shifted. But until then, he and the ANC see these court battles as attempts by a few to force him from power undemocratically.

It was dubbed the “spy tapes” case after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) dropped the charges in 2009.

The authority said new phone-tap evidence suggested political interference in the investigation.

‘President Zuma should face the charges’

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) said the High Court’s ruling did not deal with the merits of any allegations against the president.

“The ANC has consistently supported the legal maxim that justice delayed is justice denied. This matter has dragged on for close to a decade and the ANC is pleased therefore that it now appears closer to resolution, seven years since the NPA decision,” it said in a statement.

What are the spy tapes?

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said Mr Mpshe had “found himself under pressure” when he decided to discontinue the prosecution and “consequently made an irrational decision”.

“Considering the situation in which he found himself, Mr Mpshe ignored the importance of the oath of office which commanded him to act independently and without fear and favour.

“It is thus our view that the envisaged prosecution against Mr Zuma was not tainted by the allegations against Mr McCarthy.

“Mr Zuma should face the charges as outlined in the indictment.”

This is the latest legal setback for the South African president.

Last month, South Africa’s highest court found that he had breached the constitution by failing to repay public money used to upgrade his private home.

It backed an earlier ruling by an anti-corruption body that said $23m (£15m) of public money had been improperly spent on Mr Zuma’s rural home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Controversial arms deal: What you need to know




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By Sydney Chesterfield on April 29, 2016 · Posted in Politics, Trends

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