UPDATED: South Africa’s Ex-President Zuma Goes To Jail

In this file photo taken on May 17, 2021, Former South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters in the gallery of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on May 17, 2021. PHOTO: ROGAN WARD / POOL / AFP

 

South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma turned himself into prison late Wednesday to begin serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, his foundation said.

In a historic ruling, the Constitutional Court last week handed Zuma a 15-month term for snubbing anti-graft investigators.

Police had earlier on Wednesday warned they were prepared to arrest the former president by a midnight deadline to enforce the ruling, unless the top court instructed otherwise.

But Zuma decided to make his way to an unnamed prison in his home province of Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN).

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“Please be advised that (ex) President Zuma has decided to comply with the incarceration order,” the foundation tweeted.

“He is on his way to hand himself into a Correctional Services Facility in KZN,” it said, just minutes before the deadline expired.

A convoy of cars believed to be carrying Zuma drove out of his homestead at high speed about 40 minutes before the cut-off time for him to give himself up.

Zuma had mounted a last-ditch legal defence and refused to turn himself in by Sunday night as the court-ordered. Under the ruling, police were given three days to arrest him if he failed to surrender.

He had pleaded with the court for an 11th-hour reprieve.

In an urgent request to the Constitutional Court late Wednesday, Zuma’s lawyers asked it to “direct the suspension of its orders… to prevent our client from being arrested prior to all legal processes being finalised”.

Zuma’s first application to halt his arrest was heard on Tuesday but the judgement was reserved until Friday.

Separately, he has pleaded with the Constitutional Court to reconsider and rescind its jail order. That challenge will be heard next Monday.

Zuma, 79, was forced out of office in 2018 and replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa after a nine-year tenure stained by corruption scandals and the taint of cronyism.

Critics nicknamed him the “Teflon president” for his perceived ability to sidestep justice.

But his fortunes changed on June 29 when the court issued its damning judgement against him for contempt.

Zuma had refused to obey a court order to appear before a commission probing the siphoning off of state assets under his presidency.

 

– Clout –

Despite his tarnished reputation, the former president carries substantial weight among officials and grassroots members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

At the weekend he told his supporters that there would be chaos if police “dared” arrest him.

The former herdboy was the ANC’s intelligence chief during the armed struggle against apartheid and spent 10 years in jail on notorious Robben Island.

Despite its internal tensions, the ANC said it would not interfere with the judiciary processes enveloping Zuma.

Party spokesman Pule Made told reporters earlier that “we respect the independence of the judiciary”.

Zuma has also been accused of involvement in a bribery affair dating back more than 20 years.

He faces 16 charges of fraud, graft, and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats, and military gear from five European arms firms for 30 billion rand, then the equivalent of nearly $5 billion.

AFP

South Africa Governing Political Party Suspends Top Official In Graft Scandal

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) arrives on day 2 of his appearance on behalf of the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in Johannesburg, South Africa, on April 29, 2021. PHOTO: Kim Ludbrook / POOL / AFP

 

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party has suspended its Secretary-General, Elias “Ace” Magashule, over graft charges in a move seen as a political victory for President Cyril Ramaphosa in the divided party.

But a defiant Magashule, who is the first top party official to be temporarily forced out under a new policy aimed at turning the page on a litany of graft scandals, said he was not going anywhere.

Instead, he said he was suspending Ramaphosa from his position as ANC president.

Magashule, 61, was given a 30-day ultimatum on March 30 to step aside after being charged with embezzling public funds while he was premier of the Free State province.

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He ignored the deadline and refused to resign voluntarily, forcing the party to suspend him.

“You are hereby temporarily suspended with effect from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your court proceedings,” his deputy Jessie Duarte informed Magashule of his suspension in a letter.

The letter, dated Monday and leaked to the media on Wednesday, said the decision to suspend him would be “in the best interest of the organisation”.

But Magashule, countered in a letter Wednesday night sent to Ramaphosa and Duarte, saying he was “appealing this unconstitutional suspension” and that until the appeal was heard he would keep his job.

In a dramatic and strange outburst, he said he was invoking powers vested in him as the Secretary-General of the ANC, to “summarily” suspend Ramaphosa.

But the ANC immediately issued a statement saying its resolution stands and asked Magashule to “respect” the party’s decisions and “subject himself to the discipline of the organization”.

Magashule has been indicted on charges of corruption and fraud, or theft and money laundering, along with around a dozen other co-accused.

The ANC of Nelson Mandela, which has been ruling the country since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has been at pains to clean up its image, marred by years of graft.

 

– ‘Turning point’ –

David Lewis, head of the Corruption Watch NGO, hailed Magashule’s removal as the “first really strong sign that the ANC is prepared to clean up its own ranks”.

The suspension is a “turning point” for the ANC, setting a “serious precedent” that will be difficult to ignore in future, said political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana.

“It is a win for the ANC as a whole,” Ndletyana told AFP.

Magashule is to be paid his salary during his suspension but not permitted to represent the ANC or speak publicly about the party.

Charges against Magashule relate to public funds that were set aside to vet government-built housing with asbestos roofs in 2014 when he headed the provincial government, dubbed a “gangster state” in a book by investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.

The hazardous roofs were never removed, and investigators believe that the equivalent of over $12 million (10 million euros) was pocketed.

Magashule was briefly arrested in November and granted bail on graft charges. He is next expected to appear before a high court in August.

His removal is seen as a first major political score for President Cyril Ramaphosa who first came to power in 2018 vowing to fight corruption when he succeeded the scandal-tainted Jacob Zuma.

“The suspension will bring some credibility to the president’s longstanding pledge of addressing corruption within the ANC,” said Aleix Montana, analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft.

But analysts note that Magashule, a renowned political infighter with a permanent scowl, a Zuma confidant with an entrenched following within the party, will deepen the factionalism woes in the ANC.

The historic party has been suffering a decline in support in elections in recent years. The country goes to local government polls in October this year.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, said it was not enough to just suspend Magashule, demanding that the party makes sure that “he is put behind bars.”

AFP

South African Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Jacob Zuma

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018, former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges.
PHOTO: Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

A South African court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for embattled former president Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing over corruption charges he faces related to a 1990s arms deal.

But the execution of the warrant will be deferred until May 6 when the case is due to resume.

Zuma’s lawyers told the court that he was ill and receiving treatment abroad.

The High Court in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg issued the warrant after it questioned the authenticity of the sick note said to have been signed by a military doctor.

“The court accepts that Mr Zuma may be unwell,” said judge Dhaya Pillay. “But this court needs reliable evidence that Mr Zuma is indeed ill.”

“It is not clear that (the doctor) is indeed a regular practitioner,” she said.

Zuma’s lawyer Dan Mantsha told reporters outside the courtroom that “our courts have no sympathy, no compassion”.

“We are very concerned when courts issue warrants under the circumstances like this when the whole country knows that president Zuma is not well … indeed president Zuma underwent two operations in early January this year,” he said, adding the country knew Zuma was outside the country.

“When you start to issue warrants under such circumstances, people start to question whether we are all equal under the law,” said Mantsha.

Zuma was due in court on Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in a case that has seen numerous legal turns over a decade and a half.

He is alleged to have taken bribes worth four million rand ($270,000) related to a $3.4 billion arms deal in 1999 when he was deputy president.

In all Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment when he was deputy to the country’s second black president, Thabo Mbeki.

Both Zuma and French defence company Thales, which supplied equipment for navy vessels, deny the charges.

Zuma was forced to step down in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a nine-year reign marked by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.

AFP

S.Africa Deputy President Leads Ruling Party Leadership Race

SA Minister Assures Foreign Nationals Of Halted Attacks

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa enjoyed a sharp lead on Tuesday in the contest to become the leader of the ruling African National Congress party.

A majority of party regional delegates backed Ramaphosa ahead of an elective conference to be held in Johannesburg which will select a successor to ANC chief President Jacob Zuma between December 16 and 20.

Ramaphosa leads his closest rival, Zuma’s ex-wife and former African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, by 529 regional delegates according to a provisional official tally released on Tuesday. He currently has 1,859 pledges to her 1,330.

They have been embroiled in an increasingly bitter proxy battle, with allies of the two trading insults and allegations in recent months.

The successful contender will go on to contest presidential elections in 2019 as the ANC candidate.

Other hopefuls include parliament speaker Baleka Mbete and presidency minister Jeff Radebe — although they are seen as outsiders.

There are 4,731 branch delegates in all who will make up roughly 90 percent of the votes that will be cast at the elective conference to pick a new leader.

The remaining votes are reserved for delegates from the ANC’s Women’s, Youth and Veteran’s branches as well as provincial executive committee members.

Branch delegates can change their votes up until the conference.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade union official turned successful entrepreneur who is the preferred contender of the business community.

They hope that he will be able to extricate South Africa from a spiral of high-unemployment, slow growth and soaring debt.

He will face-off against 68-year-old Dlamini-Zuma who previously held a string of ministerial posts and went on to chair the African Union Commission. Her detractors have suggested that she could shield her ex-husband Zuma from any corruption prosecution. He faces a slew of graft allegations and the possible reinstatement of 783 corruption charges related to a 1990s arms deal.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe sought to alay fears that divisions within the party could spill into the open at the elective conference.

“Contestation for leadership must strengthen the ANC rather than weakening it,” he said.

“We are working very hard to ensure that the conference is steady and successful.”

AFP

Thousands March In South Africa Against Zuma

Thousands Expected To March In South Africa Against Jacob ZumaThousands of protesters are staging a multi-city protest against President Jacob Zuma’s leadership in South Africa.

They are calling on President Zuma once again, to step down following a string of scandals.

The recent sacking of respected Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, last Thursday has outraged allies and opponents.

The reshuffle also caused rifts in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the end of the ‘white-minority rule’ in 1994.

Similarly, S&P Global Ratings cited Gordhan’s dismissal as one reason for its downgrade of South Africa to “junk” in an unscheduled review on Monday.

The Rand has tumbled more than 11 per cent since March 27, when President Zuma ordered Mr Gordhan to return home from overseas talks with investors, days before firing him from the cabinet.

South Africa’s Zuma Gets Backing From ANC

South Africa's Zuma Gets Backing From ANCEmbattled South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, has survived another attempt to force him out of office for the umpteenth time.

This time, the President received the backing of a major decision-making body within the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The committee was reviewing a complaint by some of the ANC top executives that President Zuma had failed to consult them over reshuffling his cabinet.

After considering the complaint, the ANC body said it has decided not to press for the President’s resignation.

Mr Zuma has been under growing pressure since sacking respected South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.

Mr Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the ANC .

The former Finance Minister described an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification as ‘absolute nonsense‘.

South African Speaker Aborts Trip To Discuss Urgent Motion

South African Speaker Aborts Trip To Discuss Urgent MotionSpeaker of the South African Parliament, Baleka Mbete, has cut short her participation at the International Parliamentary Union in Bangladesh, to address pressing political developments in the country.

Foremost among the issues are opposition parties’ request for a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma to be tabled before the Assembly this week.

This follows a controversial cabinet reshuffle carried out by the President, where a well-loved Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan was removed.

Although the parliament is on recess, but the opposition parties want an urgent sitting to debate the motion.

Ms Mbete, who is also the Chairperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), told reporters at the OR Tambo Airport on Sunday that there will be consultations from Tuesday before a date can be set.

Mr Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the ANC on Thursday night.

Reacting to his sack, the former Finance Minister described an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification as ‘absolute nonsense’.

South African Leaders Divided Over Gordhan’s Sack

South African Leaders Divided Over Gordhan's SackThere was a delay to the swearing-in of new ministers selected by President Jacob Zuma in South Africa, as the programme had to be rescheduled for Friday evening.

The President’s sacking of the country’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has drawn mixed reactions from South African leaders, with some praising Mr Gordhan’s virtues.

They believed he is victim of a witch-hunt, because he had been digging up dirt on the President.

Reacting to his sack, the former Finance Minister said an intelligence report used by President Zuma as justification was ‘absolute nonsense’.

Gordhan was sacked alongside 14 other members of the cabinet, following an urgent meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) convened by the South African President on Thursday night.

South Africa: Zuma Sacks Finance Minister, 14 Others

Jacob Zuma, South AfricaThere are strong indications that 15 ministers of the South African cabinet might have been sacked.

This comes as part of the fall out of an urgent meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) convened on Thursday night by President Jacob Zuma.

According to report, no names have been released, although it is said that nine ministers and six deputies have been fired.

At an earlier news briefing, it was gathered that President Zuma had hinted on his intention to remove the Minister of Finance, based on an intelligence report which stated that the Minister had set up meetings with people who could push for a change in government.

Meanwhile, a party source said that the President is considering to step down in 2018, at least 12 months before his term ends as South African President.

Mr Zuma is due to be replaced as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) at a party conference in December, after serving his allocated two terms.

South Africa’s Anti-apartheid Veteran, Kathrada Dies At 87

Courtesy: alchetron.com
Courtesy: alchetron.com

South African anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada, has passed on at the age of 87, in a Johannesburg hospital.

According to reports, he died peacefully  “after a short period of illness, following surgery to the brain”.

Along with the late former South African President, Nelson Mandela, Mr Kathrada was among the eight African National Congress (ANC) activists sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

They were convicted of trying to overthrow the apartheid government.

The anti-apartheid icon spent 26 years in prison, 18 of which were on the notorious Robben Island.

He was released in 1989, after which the late former South African President persuaded him to join him in government.

Ahmed Kathrada left parliament in 1999, but remained active in politics.

He criticised the recent direction of the ANC and called on President Jacob Zuma to resign.

Mandela Foundation Rebukes Zuma, Joins Calls For Leadership Change

zumaThe foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela on Tuesday blamed South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma for the “wheels coming off” Africa’s most industrialised nation and urged a change in political leadership.

Since coming to power in 2009, Zuma has survived a string of corruption scandals almost unscathed. But South Africa has had to bear the cost of his antics as investors worry about its political stability, business climate and rule of law.

The non-profit Nelson Mandela Foundation, whose board consists of ten prominent South African academics, politicians and journalists, called on the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation movement once headed by Mandela and now led by Zuma, to change its leadership.

“We call on the governing party to take the steps necessary to ensure that the vehicle of state be protected and placed in safe and capable hands,” it said in a rare statement entitled: “Time to account for crippling the state”.

There has been no comments from Zuma’s spokesman or from the President.

Several ANC members have called for the 74-year-old to quit but the ANC’s top echelons have backed him. In August municipal elections the ANC suffered its worst losses since taking power when apartheid fell in 1994.

Opposition parties and civic groups are planning to march in the capital Pretoria on Wednesday to demand, among other things, that he resign.

In a blow to Zuma and the ANC, Ndileka Mandela, a grandchild of Mandela, backed the foundation’s stance.

“As Grandad always said, if the ANC does what the apartheid government did, you have every right to do what we did to the apartheid government,” she said. “That statement could never be more true than now with what we are seeing happening.”

Ruling ANC, Zuma Face Test In South Africa Polls

Jacob-Zuma-ANCThe people of South Africa have trooped out in large numbers to vote in local elections perceived as a test for President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

There was heavy security presence at the polls after a number of ANC local councilors were shot dead.

The tragedy is assumed to be the outcome of a hidden crisis in the final weeks of the campaigns.

The election reveals that the ANC, who has been ruling since 1994, might lose dominance in three major cities of Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

President Zuma has had to weather the scandal, after being ordered to refund taxpayers’ money spent on his private home.

Some senior officials of the party have asked the South African President to step aside, as a result of the scandal and the weak economy.