By Hassan Isilow
Former President Jacob Zuma will face trial after South Africa’s chief prosecutor announced Friday that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will reinstate several corruption and fraud charges against him in connection with a $2.5 billion arms deal in the late 1990s.
“After consideration of the matter, I’m of the view that there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr. Zuma on the charges listed on the indictment [against him],” NPA head Shaun Abrahams said from the capital Pretoria.
Abrahams said he had notified Zuma in writing through his lawyers about the decision.
Former National Prosecution Authority head Mokotedi Mpshe withdrew 783 corruption charges against Zuma in 2009, just weeks before he was elected president.
Mpshe said he was withdrawing the charges against Zuma after phone recordings between senior officials of former President Thabo Mbeki emerged showing they had manipulated Zuma’s case for political ends.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a decision by a Pretoria high court to reinstate the charges against Zuma.
The charges include corruption, racketeering and fraud linked to a 1999 multibillion-dollar government arms deal.
The former president now faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering related to 783 payments he allegedly received from his former financial advisor, Shabir Shaik, who was jailed for corruption.
Zuma was forced to resign as president in February after facing pressure from his ruling African National Congress party (ANC).
Abrahams said the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal will facilitate the process for Zuma to appear in court. KwaZulu-Natal is Zuma’s home province where he enjoys a lot of support. Experts fear protests might occur during the proceedings.