Just weeks after his forced resignation as South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma was charged with corruption on Friday over a $2.5 billion state arms deal, an outcome which Reuters called "a stunning judicial ruling on a continent where political ‘Big Men’ rarely face their day in court."
South Africa's chief prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, said that he would bring back a case against Mr Zuma relating to a 1990s arms deal to buy European military kit that had cast a shadow over politics in Africa’s most industrialized economy for decades. As a result, Zuma will face 16 charges relating to 783 counts of corruption over the 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) deal.
Abrahamas told a media conference that Zuma’s attempts to head off the charges that have been hanging over him for more than a decade had failed.
“After consideration of the matter, I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of successful prosecution of Mr Zuma on the charges listed in the indictment,” Abrahams said and added that "I am of the view that a trial court would be the most appropriate forum for these issues to be ventilated and to be decided upon."
The charges were initially dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009. Then deputy president, Zuma was linked to the arms deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.
The 75-year-old Zuma disputed all the allegations against him, he added. Since his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.
As Reuters adds, Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
According to commentators, the crackdown against Zuma is further proof that Ramaphosa is turning a new leaf in South Africa politics. However, while Although USDZAR edged initially lower on the headlines, it has been unable to rally significantly. And, as Citi adds, "after all, Zuma has been ousted and right now, South Africa assets are preoccupied with broader EM FX sentiment, and locally, the Moody's rating review next week and the land expropriation bill."