Jacob Zuma to face trial on corruption charges

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President Jacob Zuma gestures during his question and answer session in Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, is to face prosecution for 18 charges of corruption, the director of public prosecutions has confirmed.

They include more than 700 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering. He denies the charges.

Mr. Zuma was forced by his party the ruling African National Congress (ANC), to resign back in February.

He was facing his ninth no-confidence vote in parliament before he left office.

The charges against Mr. Zuma relate to a 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) government arms deal in the late 1990s, before he became president.

Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority, said a trial court was the appropriate place for the matter to be decided.

“There are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution,” he said.

Mr. Abrahams said he had dismissed representations made by Mr Zuma asking that the charges be dropped.

The former ANC chief had argued that the charges against him were characterised by misconduct, “irrational behaviour” and media leaks on the part of prosecutors, Mr Abrahams said.

Zuma weathered an array of corruption allegations during his nine years in power.

In 2016, a report by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog alleged that the billionaire Gupta family had exploited their ties with him to win state contracts.

The same year, South Africa’s highest court ruled Zuma violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on his private home.

An anti-corruption body found he had spent $23m (£15m) on refurbishments including a swimming pool and an amphitheatre. He has since repaid some of the money.

Both the Guptas and Mr. Zuma deny any wrongdoing.

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