Jacob Zuma: A chronology of scandals

Jacob Zuma of South Africa

SOUTH African President, Jacob Zuma, faces a vote of no confidence tabled at the Parliament by his own party within days if he does not resign his office before the end of Wednesday.

Ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), which the president belongs to was reported to support an opposition motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in Parliament scheduled for today (Thursday) if the president does not resign beforehand.

This was announced by the ANC’s chief whip in Parliament, Jackson Mthembu, at a news conference in Parliament on Wednesday.

He said the opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), had refused to withdraw a motion of no confidence it had already tabled, and the ANC was procedurally unable to override the EFF motion with its own.

The ruling party would, therefore, debate the opposition motion, and move amendments to it from the floor of Parliament.

Mthembu said that if Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was available, the ANC might move to elect party president Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s president later on Thursday or on Friday.

The South African Constitution provides that Parliament elects the country’s president.

Later on Wednesday, the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, announced that she had scheduled the debate on the no-confidence motion for 2 pm on Thursday.

According to South African newspaper allAfrica, in another development, Zuma complained in a live television interview with the public broadcaster that the national executive had not given him reasons for wanting him removed.

He repeated previous statements that he had done nothing wrong. By not resigning he was not defying the party, he said. He simply disagreed with the decision, which was unfair. “I’m being victimised,” he added. His removal was “a very serious matter,” he said.

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“I think we are being plunged into a crisis that I am sure my comrades, my leaders, will regret because some people may not like this, may feel there is something wrong…

“The leadership of the ANC, if it’s not careful, might actually cause a bigger problem than we think.”

Police on Wednesday raided the luxury home of his friends, the Gupta brothers, as part of an anti-corruption investigation.

How did Zuma get here?
On October 13, 2017, South African Supreme Court upholds reinstating 783 corruption charges against Zuma before he became President in 2009, according to Reuters.

Before election
According to DW news agency, in the run-up to the 2009 presidential election in South Africa, Jacob Zuma was simultaneously battling allegations of rape and corruption. He has been in and out of court ever since.

In June 2005, Zuma was charged with corruption for allegedly accepting bribes from French arms company Thint Holdings. The 783 charges of money-laundering and racketeering stemmed from a controversial 30 billion rand ($2 billion) arms deal signed in 1999, according to Reuters.

In December 2005, he was charged with raping an HIV-positive family friend. In April 2006 Zuma was acquitted of rape but the fact he told the court he had showered in order to avoid catching HIV would continue to haunt him throughout his presidency.

In September 2006, his corruption trial was struck from the court list when the prosecution asked for yet another delay to gather evidence. The case was re-opened in November 2007.

Zuma on the way to power
The African National Congress (ANC) elected Zuma in December 2007 as party leader over former President Thabo Mbeki in a bitter contest, thus making him the favourite to become South Africa’s next president after elections in 2009.

Zuma filed papers to have his prosecution declared invalid and unconstitutional in June 2008. He revealed that if the application failed he would make a second application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

In September 2008, the court declared that the prosecution was invalid and threw out the charges on a legal technicality, stressing this had no bearing on Mr Zuma’s guilt or otherwise.

Five days later, the National Prosecuting Authority said it would appeal, sparking fury within the ANC. The ANC then forced Thabo Mbeki to resign as president.

The appeals court overturned the ruling in January 2009, opening the way for Zuma’s trial to be resumed, just months before general elections.

South Africa’s chief prosecutor announced that charges against Zuma were being dropped in April 2009 after phone-tap evidence showed there had been political interference in the investigation.

Zuma became president of South Africa May 2009. His supporters saw his popular touch as a refreshing contrast to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, who was seen as rather aloof. He, however, promised to fight corruption.

After election
Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous other corruption allegations since taking office, said he was disappointed by the court’s decision and asked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to “consider representations” before deciding whether to proceed against him when the South African Supreme Court upholds reinstating 783 corruption charges against Zuma before he became President.

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In February 2010, Zuma admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock with the daughter of the head of South Africa’s World Cup organising committee.

He also filed a $700,000 defamation lawsuit in December 2010 over a 2008 political cartoon which portrayed him raping a female figure symbolising justice.

In preparation for 2012 election, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in March 2012, that the Democratic Alliance (the largest opposition party) could challenge a previous court’s decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma.

However, Zuma was re-elected head of the ANC in December 2012.

Zuma’s image as “the people’s president” started to fade following the upgrading of his residence in the rural area of Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal, using state funds amounting to 246 million Rand.(€ 16.7million, $20.5 million) in December 2013. An official inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.

In December same year, during a memorial ceremony for South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, ANC supporters openly heckled and booed Zuma in front of foreign dignitaries, including US President Barack Obama.
Zuma was actually re-elected as president of South Africa for a second term in May 2014.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s final report on security upgrades to the Nkandla compound, entitled “Secure in Comfort” was published in March 2014, despite Zuma’s attempts to have it blocked through court proceedings.

In a surprise move, Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 and replaced him with the unknown backbencher David van Rooyen. Only four days later, he had to reverse his strategy due to public outcry and re-appointed former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, whom he then fired in 2017. Gordhan was replaced by Zuma’s loyalist Malusi Gigabai.

The South Africa government in Pretoria allowed visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country in June 2015 despite an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The decision by South Africa not to arrest Bashir sparked international condemnation which was met with a threat by Zuma’s government to withdraw its membership of the ICC.

South Africa’s highest court ruled in March 2016 that Zuma breached his oath of office by using government money to upgrade his private home in Nkandla in 2013. Zuma apologised to South Africans for the “frustration and confusion” caused by the scandal. The constitutional court ruled he had to pay back 7.8 million Rand – a portion of the tax money spent on installing non-security features at Nkandla.

In July 2017 a new scandal that quickly came to be known as “Guptagate” came to light. Allegations of high-level corruption under Zuma’s rule were fuelled by a huge leak of confidential emails showing that the Indian-born Gupta family had used their influence to appoint cabinet ministers and benefit from government contracts.

Zuma survived a no-confidence motion in South Africa’s parliament in August 2017. For the first time, the vote was conducted by secret ballot. He survived by just 21 votes, a result that indicates that at least 26 ANC members had voted in favour of the motion.

South African Parliamentarians prepare for a no-confidence vote against President Zuma in August 2017 but was never held that year.

In October 2017, the supreme court ruled that 18 counts of corruption from the arms deal should be reinstated. After which Zuma was replaced by Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC leader in December 2017.

Jacob Zuma announced his immediate resignation on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, after the ruling ANC party threatened to eject him from office via a parliamentary vote of no confidence on Thursday (February 15, 2018).

According to AFP, Scandal-tainted Zuma said in a 30-minute national television address that he had “come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect”.

“I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability. I am forever grateful that they trusted me with the highest office in the land,” he said.