Former President Jacob Zuma, who faces fraud and corruption charges, speaks to supporters after appearing at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on May 17, 2021. File picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters
Former President Jacob Zuma, who faces fraud and corruption charges, speaks to supporters after appearing at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on May 17, 2021. File picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

A look at the scandals that have plagued Jacob Zuma

By Reuters Time of article published Jul 7, 2021

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Johannesburg - Former President Jacob Zuma will hand himself over to serve 15 months in jail for contempt of court, his foundation said on Wednesday, the first indication that Zuma is willing to serve his prison term.

The Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma on June 29 to 15 months in jail for failing to appear at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, and gave him five days to appear before police.

Below are some of the main scandals involving Zuma, South Africa's most divisive president since the end of apartheid in 1994. He was in power from 2009 to 2018.

"STATE OF CAPTURE"

The public protector published a report in 2016 entitled "State of Capture" alleging that Zuma's businessman friends, the Gupta brothers, had tried to influence the appointment of Cabinet ministers and were unlawfully awarded state tenders.

An inquiry was set up in 2018 to examine corruption allegations during Zuma's period in power. Zuma denies wrongdoing and has so far not cooperated.

The Guptas, who also deny wrongdoing, left South Africa after Zuma's ouster.

ARMS DEAL

Zuma is being tried on charges including corruption and fraud relating to a R30 billion (now $2 billion) arms deal from the 1990s, when he was deputy president.

The charges were set aside in 2009, paving the way for Zuma to run for president, but were reinstated in 2018. He denies wrongdoing.

SACKING

Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, and replaced him with little-known parliamentary backbencher Des van Rooyen.

Zuma was forced to sack van Rooyen and reappoint a previous finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, four days later after the rand collapsed. President Cyril Ramaphosa reappointed Nene in February 2018.

Later that year, Nene told a judicial corruption inquiry he had been fired by Zuma for refusing to approve a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia in 2015.

MIDNIGHT RESHUFFLE

Zuma fired Gordhan as finance minister and Mcebisi Jonas as deputy finance minister in a midnight reshuffle in March 2017. South African financial markets plummeted, with senior officials in the governing African National Congress (ANC) expressing anger at the lack of consultation.

WATERKLOOF LANDING

The Guptas used the top-security Waterkloof air base to fly in 200 guests from India for a family member's wedding in 2013, sparking a public outcry.

The ANC called the landing reckless and a breach of national security.

NKANDLA UPGRADES

Soon after Zuma became president, it emerged that millions of dollars of public money had been spent on upgrades to his sprawling country estate, including a swimming pool that one minister justified as a firefighting resource.

Zuma weathered a no-confidence vote in parliament over the upgrades and paid back more than $500,000 after unsuccessfully trying to argue his case in the constitutional court.

RAPE ACCUSATION

While deputy president of the ANC, Zuma was charged with raping the HIV-positive daughter of a friend who had been imprisoned on Robben Island with Zuma during the apartheid era.

Zuma was acquitted in 2006 but was ridiculed after saying he had showered after sex to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

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