By Aishwarya Rai, International News Editor
On Friday, April 6, Former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma was indicted for corruption in reference to a multibillion-dollar arms deal that took place in 1999. His appearance in the High Court in Durban lasted 15 minutes and the case has been adjourned until June 8. According to the BBC, his charges include 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering which were reinstated in 2016. The former president was forced out of office in February.
The arms deal took place during Mr. Zuma’s transition from provincial minister to deputy president. The accusation includes accepting 783 illegal payments. The case is linked to Mr. Zuma’s financial advisor, Schabir Shaikh who was arrested in 2005 after he was found guilty of soliciting bribes from a French arms firm on Mr. Zuma’s behalf, according to the BBC. The National Prosecuting Authority had filed the charges against Zuma but then set them aside in 2009 when Zuma entered his presidency. However, the charges were reinstated in 2016.
However, Mr. Zuma claims the accusations are false and that “this (the charges) is just a political conspiracy.” He stood outside the courthouse after his hearing and stated, “I keep asking what has Zuma done and no one has an answer for me,” and, “The truth will come out. What have I done? I am innocent until proven guilty.”
According to the BBC, Zuma believes he is being targeted by political foes both within his party, the African National Congress (ANC) and from opposition parties that wanted to work against his ambition to bring economic empowerment to black people. Zuma’s nine year administration was burdened with significant flaws: ‘economic stagnation, soaring unemployment, multiple corruption scandals and credit downgrades,’ as stated by The Guardian. Nonetheless, his supported cheered for him outside the courtroom and many expressed their gratitude and admiration for his work as president. One supporter, a businessman, was quoted saying, “Whatever happens we will still support Zuma because we believe he brought us radical economic transformation and we still believe that him being in the ANC, he will push for it.”
This hearing is presumed to be the first of many as Jacob Zuma is fighting what seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence against him.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 10th print edition.
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