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S’African prosecutor to challenge Zuma’s graft ruling

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South African President Jacob Zuma / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

South African President Jacob Zuma / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

South Africa’s prosecution says it will appeal against a court ruling that it should reconsider corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

Originally, the 783 charges were dropped weeks before the 2009 election, which led to him becoming president.

But last month, a high court judge described that decision as “irrational”.

Mr. Zuma has always denied the allegations, which are linked to a 1999 arms deal worth billions of dollars.

And in April, a judge-led commission of inquiry found no evidence of corruption or fraud by any government officials at the time the deal was made.

After a case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said last month that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should consider re-opening the case.

But National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, said that prosecutors should be able to exercise discretion over whether an investigation should continue.

Briefing journalists, Mr. Abrahams said that this was an issue that affected the separation of powers and that the ruling “has far-reaching ramifications”.

He said he would be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court ruling.

Quoting legislation that defines the role of the NPA, Mr. Abrahams said that he did his job “without fear, favour or prejudice”, adding that no-one influenced his decisions.

The DA described the prosecutor’s decision as a “blatant delaying tactic to shield Mr. Zuma from his day in court”.

This decision means that President Zuma is off the hook, for now.
By appealing against last month’s High Court ruling, the NPA has refused to reinstate the charges.

Although chief prosecutor, Abrahams, was at pains to explain his independence, the opposition still maintains that he is too close to President Zuma.

If the Supreme Court of Appeal rules against the NPA, Mr. Abrahams would have to go to the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court.

So the allegations of corruption against the 73-year-old president are still going to be in our daily diet for some time to come.

But the president must be breathing a bit easier now.


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