Opening of South African parliament and State of the Nation address

President Jacob Zuma to Appeal Ruling on Corruption Charges

President Jacob Zuma is to challenge a ruling that corruption charges against him should be reinstated. State prosecutors will also appeal last month’s decision that Zuma must face 783 charges which date back 16 years.

In a statement, Zuma’s office said: “The President believes that the decision of the Court affects him directly and is of a strong view that the Court erred in several respects in its decision.” It follows the announcement of a similar appeal by state prosecutors on Monday.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) director Shaun Abrahams warned that that last month’s court ruling could dilute the prosecutor office’s powers, describing it as “an important matter of principle which affects all prosecutions.”

But their decision immediately drew accusations that Zuma was being protected from justice.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), described the appeal bid as a “blatant delaying tactic to shield Jacob Zuma.”

But Abrahams insisted his organization was not reluctant to prosecute the president, adding that “any suggestion that I may have succumbed to any pressure to make my decision – I can assure the public today that it is absolutely ridiculous and completely unfounded.”

Zuma has faced months of calls for him to resign after a series of corruption scandals, some of which date back to 1999. The alleged wrongdoings have irked many South Africans as the country battles falling economic growth and record unemployment.

Sixteen-year-old deal

The charges – of corruption, fraud and money laundering relating to a multi-billion dollar arms deal – were dropped in 2009, and cleared the way for Zuma to be elected president just weeks later.

But last month, the high court in Pretoria ruled the original decision had been “irrational.” The NPA’s original decision was based on phone intercepts presented by Zuma’s legal team that suggested the timing of the charges in late 2007 may have been part of a political plot against him.

Allegations have hurt reputation

Zuma faces a separate scandal over $24 million (21.4 million euros) in state spending on his private home. Last month, South Africa’s highest court said that Zuma had failed to repay for the cost of the upgrading.

That ruling led to an impeachment vote against Zuma in parliament, which was voted down.

Although the latest appeal will take a year to resolve, the ongoing scandals are likely to weaken the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in local elections in August, analysts said.


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