South Africa court blow for Zuma

South Africa court blow for Zuma
 

Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma is a frontrunner for ANC president

South Africa’s former Deputy President Jacob Zuma could face new corruption charges after a court ruling.

The Supreme Court upheld appeals made by the state against earlier rulings preventing prosecutors from using documents seized from Mr Zuma.

He was sacked in 2005 as deputy leader over an arms deal but graft charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

He is now a frontrunner in leadership elections for the governing African National Congress (ANC) next month.

This post would put him in a strong position to become South Africa’s next president in 2009. Mr Zuma is currently the ANC’s deputy president.

The BBC’s Peter Greste in Johannesburg says the latest judgements do not mean Mr Zuma will inevitably face trial but they do cast a dark shadow over his campaign to win the presidency of the ruling ANC.

South African prosecutors have welcomed the decision saying a major hurdle preventing them re-open the case has been removed.

Controversial

Two years ago, his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik was found guilty of soliciting a bribe from French arms company Thint in exchange for Mr Zuma’s support and is currently serving a 15-year sentence.

President Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki will step down as president in 2009

Mr Zuma was then put on trial on corruption charges in relation to the 1999 $4bn arms deal, but the case collapsed last year when the prosecution said it was not ready to proceed.

In 2006, a court had ruled that documents obtained during the raids could not be used by prosecutors because the search warrants used by police were illegal.

Mr Zuma also tried to stop them from going to Mauritius to obtain an original diary which allegedly has evidence of key meetings between him and Thint.

In each of four appeals the judges ruled in favour of the state.

Their decision clears the way for prosecutors to continue their enquiries and possibly charge Mr Zuma for a second time.

Last year, Mr Zuma was also acquitted on charges of rape.

ANC divide

The BBC’s Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says despite these cases, the controversial ANC deputy president continues to enjoy political support from trade unions and some influential members of the ruling party.

The rape and corruption cases contributed to a big crack in the ANC resulting in the so-called Zuma and Mbeki camps, our reporter says.

Ever since, there has been a political battle between followers of the two leaders on who should be the party’s next chief.

Local media reports that Mr Zuma is in the lead for the top job.

But President Thabo Mbeki has indicated that he will stand for another term as party leader if asked to do so.

Mr Mbeki though, cannot stand for a third term as president in 2009.

Businessmen Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa may also seek the leadership of the party at ANC’s December congress – and would be seen as compromise candidateS.

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