South Africa President Jacob Zuma should face about 800 corruption charges that were dropped in 2009, a court ruled on Friday, putting more pressure on the battered leader.
A South African High Court reinstated the 783 corruption and fraud charges against President Zuma which were dropped seven years ago terming the decision by prosecutors as irrational and should be set aside.
"The decision... to discontinue the charges against Mr Zuma is irrational and should be reviewed and set aside," North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria judge Aubrey Ledwaba said. "Mr Zuma should face the charges as applied," AFP reported.
Mokotedi Mpshe, then acting national director of public prosecutions, was under pressure leading to the dismissal of the charges relating to multi-billion dollar arms deal, a move that cleared the way for Zuma, who was seeking to be elected as president a few weeks later.
The new development complicates the governing African National Congress situation which has been worsening day in day out with South Africans, especially the opposition parties, churches and civil rights organizations calling for Zuma’s resignation.
It was not clear as of Friday if Zuma will launch an appeal. But even so, the new development is not a good thing for the ruling party and particularly now that the country is preparing for local government elections August 3.
“It’s not the sort of decision that’s going to be easy to overturn on appeal because it seems to me, it is so well-reasoned,” said James Grant, a lawyer at the South African High Court.
“It’s a very powerful judgment because it’s a unanimous decision by three judges saying that abuse of process is not something that the prosecution service may rely on.”
The new judgment comes just a month after the country’s top court ruled that the 74- year-old leader had “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution.” Zuma failed to implement the findings of the draft ombudsman report into security upgrades at his private rural residence. According to the findings, the leader’s family had unduly benefited from the work at his Nkandla private home.
Since he took office, the country has suffered an anemic economic growth following the 2009 recession.
According to the opposition, this is another convincing reason for the embattled leader to step down to pave the way for investigations.
Pushing for Zuma’s resignation is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), according to their spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“He must resign and allow the prosecution and investigation to go on uninterrupted,” he said.
Even as leaders and other organization call for the ANC leader to step down, the party is yet to recall Zuma and has contrary to the frantic calls, decided to stand with their member cautioning that the court had not found the President guilty.
“But what is important is that there are no charges against the President at the moment, what the court has ordered is for the court to review its decision,” ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.
Cherrel Africa, head of political studies at the University of the Western Cape pointed out that ANC will “have even harder time managing their image after having decided not to recall him.”
Zuma has survived three impeachment attempts, in the last six months.
Image credit: AP