African business, politics and lifestyle
Time to drop Zuma charges?
South African prosecutors are considering a legal request by ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma to drop the graft charges against the man who is expected to be the next president after the elections in April. Zuma has always denied any wrongdoing and his followers say the charges were politically motivated.
A decision to drop the charges would give the African National Congress a big boost ahead of what is expected to be the most closely-contested poll since apartheid ended in 1994. It would also remove a major distraction for Zuma in office and the prospect of court appearances that could tarnish South Africa’s standing abroad.
In the short term, investors might also welcome such a step that removes a source of uncertainty and eases political risk.
Long-term, however, dropping the charges could damage South Africa’s image.
South Africa often boasts about its constitution, but faces rising disquiet about the independence of its judiciary.
A victory for Zuma could add to that sentiment, eroding confidence in the rule of law and stoking fears South Africa is sliding away from the democratic ideals it sought to promote after the end of apartheid. Some foreign investors even worry it could give the impression South Africa is heading in the direction of neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Opposition party COPE said dropping the charges would add weight to perceptions that South Africa is becoming a “banana republic”.
Better to drop the charges or let them stand? What do you think?