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Former South African Deputy President to be Charged with Corruption

  • Delia Robertson

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it will charge former Deputy President Jacob Zuma on two counts of corruption later this week. Mr. Zuma was fired last week.

Mr. Zuma will appear in court later this week to be charged with two counts of corruption linked to the conviction of his financial advisor, Shabir Shaik. Makhosini Nkosi, spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said in a prepared statement that the authority is satisfied it can get a conviction.

"This afternoon, Advocate [Vusi] Pikoli [national director of public prosecutions] informed former Deputy President Zuma, we have decided to bring criminal charges against his person," he said. "Such charges will be constituted by, among others, two charges of corruption."

Shaik, the financial advisor, was convicted of soliciting an annual bribe of $72,000, allegedly for Mr. Zuma, from a French arms company as protection against graft charges in South Africa's military refurbishment program. He was also convicted of paying Mr. Zuma $200,000 to advance Shaik's business interests.

In convicting Shaik, Judge Hilary Squires said the relationship between him and the then deputy president was generally corrupt.

Mr. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing, often saying he was tried in the media, without being afforded an opportunity to clear his name. Two-years ago, the National Prosecuting Authority said it had a prima-facie case against Mr. Zuma, but declined to prosecute at the time because a conviction was not assured.

President Thabo Mbeki fired Mr. Zuma last week, after Mr. Zuma refused to resign. President Mbeki said the court had raised important questions of conduct inconsistent with Mr. Zuma's position as deputy president.

"However, as president of the republic, I have come to the conclusion that the circumstances dictate that in the interest of the honorable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system, and our country, it would best to release honorable Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the Cabinet," said President Thabo Mbeki

Mr. Zuma remains deputy president of the ruling African National Congress, and has made it clear that he will be available to run for president of the country when Mr. Mbeki's term ends in four years.