South African prosecutors are expected
to signal their decision Friday on whether to drop graft charges against the
leader of ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma. The National
Prosecuting Authority (NPA) held discussions early this week to shape its next
line of action whether or not to pursue the corruption charges against Zuma.
But the breakaway opposition Congress of the People party (COPE) condemned the
move, saying it would undermine the country's judiciary. Supporters of Zuma
maintain that the graft charges are politically motivated to prevent him from
becoming South Africa's next president.
Professor of international relations
Rok Ajulu tells reporter Peter Clottey there are strong indications that
charges against Zuma would be dropped.
has been going round for quite some time now and it is a decision which is
certainly being awaited with baited breath from both sides whether you are with
the pro-Zuma faction or the anti-Zuma faction. But the speculation on this for
the whole of last week or so and including the previous week was that it is likely
that the NPA is going to drop charges against Zuma. That obviously has started
a lot of debate and controversy around the mere fact that after seven years of
trying to charge Zuma, they are about to drop the charges. So the controversy
continues, but the speculation is that it is quite likely that the charges
against Zuma are going to be dropped," Ajulu noted.
said there is speculation among sections of the public that the ruling party
had planted news of the NPA's imminent decision in order to drop charges
against Jacob Zuma.
is one of the interpretations of the announcement, that the charges were being
dropped. Some people saw it as the ANC using it to test the ground. But I don't
quite think so because the representation to the NPA was made public. And
within that framework, that argument throughout was that they were asking the
NPA to drop the charges because of the political interference, which Zuma has
always claimed. Now, it comes out according media reports that the
representations and the latest evidence that was presented to the NPA did
indicate and did seem to vindicate Zuma's claim all along that there was
political interference," he said.
said there are indications that the charges might be dropped since the NPA
seems to suggest that continuing the graft charges would further tarnish the
reputation of the agency.
argument is that the NPA has been so much compromised by the interference from
the executive that they feel that if they go ahead with the charges, it will
damage the reputation of the NPA even further," Ajulu noted.
sharply differed from the opposition, which claims that dropping the charges
against Zuma would undermine the country's rule of law.
argument has been put forward by a number of players, including COPE. But I
think that they are not being honest in this matter because this is not the
first time that charges are being dropped against a number of political players
in South Africa… legally there are circumstances under which charges are going to
be dropped irrespective of who the players are. It is an election period, and
you must take that with a pinch of salt," he said.
dismissed as unfortunate remarks that the charges would be dropped to give the
ruling party and undue advantage ahead of the general election.
fact that the ANC was going to win this election was never in dispute. The ANC
support base is still too big so, whether the charges were dropped or not was
not going to in anyway take away part of the ANC victory. The argument that has
been posited that COPE has come into the scene and as a result of that, the ANC
support base would be dented is neither here nor there, since there is nothing
of that nature on the ground. Because the evidence so far indicates that COPE
would not be able to dent the support base of the ANC. Because if you look
closely to the by-election recently held over the last five weeks or so, there
are no indications that COPE was gaining some support as to threaten the
support base of the ANC," Ajulu pointed out.
last month media reports from South Africa suggested that the prosecuting
authority was considering dropping graft charges against the ANC leader.
NPA was locked in meetings earlier this week to discuss the possibility of
dropping Zuma's prosecution on graft charges. It is expected to disclose today
when it will announce its decision.
NPA charges ANC leader Jacob Zuma with graft, fraud, money laundering and
racketeering on December 28 2007 eight days after winning the ruling party's
presidency at the Polokwane Conference, beating challenger and former President
NPA's move had been expected after it announced fresh charges against Zuma in
relation to a state arms deal were imminent in 2007. The charges cast into doubt Zuma's chances of
becoming South Africa's president in this month's general elections. A first
corruption case against him was thrown out of court last year over delays. After gaining access to new evidence, the NPA
alleges Zuma received 4 million rand in corrupt payments between 1995 and 2005.
ANC is widely expected to maintain its two-thirds majority in South Africa's
parliament in this month's election despite a stiff challenge predicted from
opposition parties, including the newly formed COPE splinter group.