South African President Zuma Under Fire in Court, Parliament

  • Democratic Alliance wants graft case reinstated against Zuma
  • Ruling ANC defeated motion of no confidence in president

South Africa’s main opposition party staged a two-pronged attack against President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, urging the High Court to reinstate graft charges against him and parliament to pass a motion of no-confidence in his rule.

The governing African National Congress defeated the motion in parliament by 225 votes to 99. In the North Gauteng High Court, lawyers for the Democratic Alliance said the National Prosecuting Authority’s 2009 decision to drop 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against Zuma was based on political considerations and should be overturned. Schabir Shaik, Zuma’s former financial adviser, was convicted in 2005 of trying to solicit a bribe for Zuma from arms dealers.

“Jacob Zuma sold out when he manipulated the National Prosecuting Authority” to abandon the case, DA leader Mmusi Maimane told lawmakers in Cape Town. “You cannot hide from justice simply because you are the president.”

Prosecutors said taped phone calls indicated that chief investigator Leonard McCarthy used the case against Zuma to frustrate his efforts to win control of the ANC from then-President Thabo Mbeki. The DA argued that the merits of the case against Zuma remained undisputed.

Zuma, who was elected ANC president in 2007, became president of South Africa in May 2009 and won a second and final term in 2014. He denies any wrongdoing.

Political Agenda

“President Zuma will maintain that the decision of the National Director of Public Prosecutions was rationally derived at,” the presidency said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. “The president has always contended that the court proceedings are an abuse of process by a political party in order to advance a political agenda.”

The case continues and the court hasn’t indicated when it will pass judgment.

The opposition said Zuma acted recklessly when he replaced his finance minister in December with a little-known lawmaker, sparking a sell-off in the rand and nation’s bonds.

“President Jacob Zuma fired the former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, which wiped out billions in savings and permanently damaged investor confidence in South Africa,” David Maynier, a DA lawmaker, said during the debate.

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu described the DA’s motion as a “frivolous” gesture.

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