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The South African Nation has been known to have experienced more turmoil under the administration of President Jacob Zuma than at any given time throughout its history. Zuma is now supposed to be facing corruption charges relating to the 1994 arms deal. These amount to 16 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering relating to the deal to buy European military hardware after apartheid ended in 1994. At that time, he was still an MEC for economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma told supporters that corruption charges against him should be dropped because he had done nothing wrong, after appearing in court for the corruption for the second time relating to the $2.5 billion arms deal.
The case is unusual because African leaders are rarely taken to court once they leave power, particularly when their own party remains in charge.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa has made fighting corruption a priority since he took power in February as part of a reform agenda that aims to revitalize the economy and attract investment. Zuma’s lawyers say he will challenge the decision to prosecute the case. The speed with which prosecutors have moved against the 76-year-old is a sign of his waning influence since he was replaced by Ramaphosa, his former deputy. “it’s obvious that the case should not go on,” Zuma told supporters from a stage in Durban, where High Court Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo adjourned the arms deal case until July 27.
The President however clearly knows that if he is seen to be favorable to the idea of Zuma going to prison then Zuma’s supporters will accuse him of being a sell-out. This is a term already being used by the courts. So even though there is also the matter of whether the current case will go ahead Ramaphosa will stay aloof from prosecutions. Zuma himself has not been compliant with the request but the court and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will compel him too. Zuma can rely on the support of his loyalists particularly in his home land of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Judge clearly favors the trial to continue. Zuma is trying to have it thrown of track by having his supporters disrupt proceedings.
The national prosecutor turned down a request to delay the hearing pending the outcome of a separate court case over the state paying Zuma’s legal fees. Charges over the arms deal were filed but then set aside by the National Prosecuting Authority shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009. After his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated, finally succeeded in 2016. Zuma’s supporters say the former president, whose nine years in power were marked by economic stagnation and credit rating downgrades, is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.
The national prosecutor turned down the request because he feared Zuma’s lawyers would find a way to delay the trial. This trial has long been overdue as this scandal should be cleared given Zuma’s involvement should be addressed. This way people will find out how deep the scandal goes. The Democratic Alliance under Helen Zille was relentless in calling for the Zuma “spy tapes” to be released and this led to the investigations being renewed. This trial is crucial to finding out just what this whole arms deal scandal is all about. The former president’s supporters are quick to forget they have been defending him for far too long and that it is inevitable that Zuma will go on trial.
The truth has to come out.