South Africa: Court rules Zuma should face almost 800 graft charges

South African President Jacob Zuma should face almost 800 corruption charges that were dropped in 2009, a judge said Friday, piling further pressure on the embattled leader.

The charges, relating to a multi-billion dollar arms deal, were dropped by the chief state prosecutor in a move that cleared the way for Zuma to be elected president.

“The decision… to discontinue the charges against Mr Zuma is irrational and should be reviewed,” Pretoria High Court judge Aubrey Ledwaba said.

“Mr Zuma should face the charges as applied.”

The prosecutor had justified dropping the charges by saying that tapped phone calls between senior officials in then-president Thabo Mbeki’s administration showed political interference in the case.

The recordings, which became known as the “spy tapes”, were kept secret but finally released in 2014 to the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), after a five-year legal battle.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Friday’s court ruling was a major blow for the president, who has faced months of criticism over various corruption scandals and the country’s dire economic outlook.

“Today is a great victory for the rule of law. Ultimately Jacob Zuma must face prosecution,” Maimane said after attending the court hearing.

“We are deeply, deeply delighted. We believe it’s a significant judgement.

“Jacob Zuma must have… his day in court.”

The DA called for the National Prosecuting Authority to immediate revive the 783 charges of corruption dating back to 1999. But the legal wrangling is set to continue, with the ruling likely to go to appeal.

South Africa 3012317811300707081

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