Ruling may have impact on ANC Conference in December
By Nsikan Ikpe
Since coming into office, South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has been confronted with a battery of mines. The latest is from that nation’s Supreme Court.
Delivering judgement on an appeal of a High Court ruling to reinstate no fewer than 800 corruption charges filed against Jacob Zuma before he became president, the court accepted that the demand was in order and accordingly instructed that the president’s re-trail should commence.
In his reaction to the ruling, Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous other fresh corruption allegations since taking office, said he was disappointed by the Court’s decision and requested the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to “consider representations” before deciding whether to proceed against him.
It was unclear when the NPA would make a decision on the charges, which relate to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) government arms deal arranged in the late 1990s and which had led to his removal from office as Deputy President by former President, Thabo Mbeki.
Whichever way the issues go, political watchers are almost unanimous that the first fall-out of the ruling would be the amplification of calls for the 75-year-old to step down before his term as president ends in 2019.
Friday’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling upheld a High Court decision in April 2016 that the charges against Zuma should be reinstated. They had been set aside in April 2009 by the then-head of the prosecuting authority, paving the way for Zuma to run for president later that year.
Rejecting an appeal brought by Zuma and the NPA, Judge Lorimer Leach said it was “irrational” for the NPA to have set the charges aside — the same word used by the High Court.
Back then, the decision of the NPA (whose closest Nigerian equivalent would be the EFCC) had been seen as largely political and had also led to the ouster of then President Thabo Mbeki as leader of the party and the nation.
Pundits also say that the ruling could equally have implications on the December Leadership Conference of the ruling ANC where Zuma is pushing the candidacy of his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor in the leadership of the party and the country. The other very serious contender in the contest is Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa who has since broken political ranks with the embattled president.
Other than Ramaphosa, Zuma has continued to face strident opposition from the labour movement, the business community, student groupings and sundry ANC rebels, that include his former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan.
Embattled President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma