Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been ordered to spend 15 months in jail after failing to appear before an inquiry looking into the numerous corruption scandals during his presidency.
The country’s Constitutional Court handed down the sentence Tuesday after finding him guilty of contempt of court. The high court ordered Zuma to surrender to police within five days.
The court ordered the 79-year-old Zuma earlier this year to appear before a special inquiry investigating wide-ranging allegations of looting of state-owned businesses and government departments during his nine-year tenure between 2009 and 2018. Many of the allegations involve the brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, who were close with Zuma.
Zuma has denied the charges and has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the inquiry, accusing deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the head of the inquiry, of harboring a personal grudge against him. He is also facing several charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in connection with the purchase of warplanes, naval vessels and other military gear from European arms manufacturers.
The investigations of Zuma are part of current President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive to root out festering corruption in South Africa’s government and the ruling African National Congress. But President Ramaphosa’s efforts have been met with considerable resistance by a faction of A.N.C. officials who remain loyal to Zuma.
Ramaphosa served as Zuma’s deputy until forcing him out of the party’s leadership and eventually the presidency.