Former South African president Jacob Zuma is to face trial on corruption charges after a court yesterday dismissed his application to halt the case for good.
Zuma, who is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales in the 1990s, sought to have the case permanently dropped in March, saying it was politically motivated and that the years of delay would result in an unfair trial.
But the trial is now expected to begin on Tuesday after High Court Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni ruled that Zuma’s ‘application for the permanent stay is dismissed with costs’.
The ruling means further scrutiny of a 1999 arms deal in which Zuma (pictured in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa yesterday) is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales
The judge agreed with the prosecution that parts of Zuma’s arguments to have the case thrown out were ‘scandalous and or vexatious’.
Zuma, 77, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a multi-million-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.
The charges were first brought in 2005. They were dropped by prosecutors in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president, and reinstated in 2016.
He is alleged to have taken the bribes during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.
The charges were raised more than a decade ago but withdrawn, then reinstated after the National Prosecuting Authority announced there were sufficient grounds to bring Zuma (pictured yesterday in the High Court) to trial
Zuma was forced to resign from office last year over a separate corruption scandal centred around the Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.
His successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to crack down on the widespread graft that has eroded support for the ANC, which has ruled the country since the end of the harsh system of white minority rule known as apartheid in 1994.
The scandals around Zuma also severely hurt investor confidence in South Africa’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa.
The US Treasury on Thursday slapped sanctions on the Gupta brothers, calling them a ‘significant corruption network’ that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.
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