S.Africa prosecutors oppose order to restore Zuma graft charges
South African state prosecutors on Friday moved to oppose a court order to reinstate almost 800 dropped corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) applied to the country’s highest court for leave to appeal a high court ruling to restore the charges, set aside in 2009, shortly before Zuma came to power.
Zuma has battled several corruption scandals while in office. In the run-up to next month’s local elections, he has faced growing criticism over record unemployment levels and poor economic growth.
The 783 charges relate to alleged corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering over a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.
“The appeal papers were filed today with the Constitutional Court,” an NPA spokeswoman told AFP.
In 2009, state prosecutors justified dropping the charges by saying that tapped phone calls between officials in then-president Thabo Mbeki’s administration showed undue interference in the case.
The move cleared the way for Zuma, leader of the African National Congress (ANC) party, to be elected as South Africa’s president just weeks later.
The tapped phone recordings, which became known as the “spy tapes”, were kept secret until they were released in 2014 after a legal battle fought by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The DA on Friday accused the NPA of “an endeavour to shield the president” and said it expected the appeal application to fail.
Zuma, 74, will have completed two terms in 2019 and is not eligible to run for president again.