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South Africa’s Embattled Zuma Fights Corruption Scandal

  • Anita Powell

FILE - Supporters of various opposition parties hold placards calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 15, 2017.

Recent developments in corruption cases against South African President Jacob Zuma make it increasingly possible his party will ask him to step down before the end of his term. However, Zuma continues to fight for his political life.

The many twists and turns in the ongoing, seemingly never-ending corruption scandals plaguing Zuma are too long and complicated to summarize, says David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch.

Highlights include a recent court ruling that 783 charges of corruption against Zuma, once dismissed by prosecutors, can be reinstated.

He is also accused of allowing a wealthy Indian family, the Guptas, to choose ministers and otherwise wield extraordinary influence in his government.

Lewis, who heads the South Africa-based monitoring group, says he is concerned about where this saga has left the country after eight years under Zuma.

“One of the, arguably, the most critical impact of the whole saga, the whole state capture saga, is the extent to which key institutions have been damaged, and the extent to which people loyal to the president have been appointed to head critical state institutions from the National Prosecuting Authority to major state owned enterprises to South African Revenue Services, to many of the police agencies,” Lewis said.

The scandals and Zuma's low popularity have raised speculation that the ruling African National Congress party, at its meeting in December, could push Zuma to resign, in order to spare the party in the 2019 elections.

But Zuma is not going down without a fight. This week, he asked the nation’s High Court to set aside a bombshell report by the public protector's office that said he and the Guptas used the government for their personal enrichment.

Zuma said he would instead appoint a commission to look into the details.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party says it will push back against efforts by Zuma to allow anything short of a full judicial inquiry into the influence-peddling allegations.

James Selfe, who heads the DA’s federal executive, says Zuma’s saga will not end after he leaves office, whenever that may be.

“Essentially, it is not good enough for the president simply to resign and ride off into the sunset. He needs to be held accountable for his actions, both before he became president and during his term of office as president," Selfe said.

Zuma’s spokesman did not answer repeated calls from VOA seeking comment from on Wednesday, but Zuma and his office have previously denied all allegations of corruption - and have said they will continue to fight on.

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