The Constitutional Court in South Africa has sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to fifteen months in jail for contempt of court. Zuma (79) has tried to ignore, undermine and even destroy the rule of law in a variety of ways, says in the verdict.
Succeeded as President by Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, Zuma stands trial for corruption in his term of office. Earlier this year, he had to appear before a court investigating corruption practices. After he had not appeared, the prosecutors went to the Constitutional Court. Staying away from a trial without giving a reason is prohibited in the country by law.
In the interests of the rule of law, an unconditional jail sentence is in place according to the court in Johannesburg. “It is worrying that Zuma, who has sworn allegiance to the republic, its laws and its constitution twice, has tried to ignore, undermine and even destroy the rule of law in its entirety.”
Zuma has to report to the police within five days. He hasn‘t responded yet, a spokesperson of his said he will come up with a statement later today.
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South Africa has been conducting a major investigation into corruption among state-owned and government companies since 2018. The Committee of Inquiry has talked to more than 250 witnesses. Zuma was the first one who didn’t show up to testify. He says the judge has a personal vendetta against him.
Apart from this trial, there is also a trial against Zuma for corruption, bribes and money laundering at the time he was vice president. From 1999 onwards, he would have taken money from the French weapon manufacturer Thales. This process is expected to start next month.
President Ramaphosa has made a spearhead in the fight against corruption since he took office. Leaders in his own ANC are also not the dance. Among others, the Minister of Health and the Secretary-General of the ANC were forced to resign their duties in relation to corruption investigations against them.
After Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, Zuma was South Africa‘s third president after abolishing apartheid. He was president between 2009 and 2018, which was a period of major corruption scandals where the contradictions within the ANC were increasingly sharp. Some of the ANC’s supporters are still square behind Zuma.