Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Time to drop Zuma charges?

March 19, 2009

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?


Dear Rebecca,

There certainly seems to be a head of steam building in that direction. Mr Schabbir Sheik has been sprung.

The interesting development for me has been how Mr. Zuma is outperforming what were admittedly quite low expectations. For a Man prone to Polygamy and wearing battlefield Zulu regalia [practically a caricature of what might strike the Fear of Whatever in some Folks Minds], he has proven himself very astute at speaking to two [even more] very diverse constituencies. His Base has not experienced trickledown in any meaningful way post apartheid and he has to promise a better future. The rhetoric risk I was quite concerned about has proven a damp squib and overblown.

The retention of Manuel was a powerful message and frankly, I think Zuma has confounded expectations and that bodes well.

Aly-Khan Satchu


Hi Rebecca

I strongly believe that dropping of these charges will ease the tension that is building up in South Africa. It is embarrassing the country to have one case being investigated for 8 years for an alleged bribe of R500 000 but spending R 100 million to bring that person to book. The competence of the national prosecuting authority is very questionable and the general leadership of this institution leave much to be desired. I hope they will make the correct decision and drop these charges.

It’s no doubt that Jacob Zuma’s ANC will win an overwhelming majority judging from the poor performance of the opposition. Zuma has shown good leadership of the ANC in the most difficult patch post-apartheid, which the dismissal of Thabo Mbeki and the spliter group which resulted. Zuma main constituency which is primarily the working class and rural poor feel that this court action is nothing more the elite blocking the only candidate that they identify with. This case is viewed by millions a being a result of political conspiracy to not give Zuma a fair chance at the polls.

Posted by Lethukuthula Manyano | Report as abusive

Justice must be seen to have been done, and regardless of the extent of the bribe, Zuma must have his day in court. We cannot consider the economic or political effect of a case, only the legal aspects. Would we fail to prosecute a murderer just because he was a prominent person? These are surely double standards. Also, Zuma has threatened in public to expose others if he is accused, saying he is just small fry. Now surely we want to know what that is about. Or is it those people who are possibly behind closing down this case?

Posted by D. Lombardi | Report as abusive

How can people think a man who was dodged every crime brought against him is fit to run a country ? Its shameful to think what people disregard now as minor offences, he should try half his acts in Europe or the USA and then see if he has the publics support!

Posted by Reggie Moloi | Report as abusive

Hey Zuma does not deserve the priviledge to rule us again

Posted by Busiswa | Report as abusive

Why should Zuma not suffering for his wrong doing, of which is somebody else could do the same corruption , he she would suffer a lot, is it bcos He is a President?

Posted by Busiswa | Report as abusive

Zuma is not fit for purpose and he is certainly not fit to govern South Africa. How dare such a man even consider following in the footsteps of Mandela, how dare he be so arrogant as to believe he is worthy to wear the same shoes. And yet his arrogance is born out of ignorance, not just his own but that of his sycophantic supporters, the sort of people who still call each other ‘comrade’ a decade and a half after the revolution has been won ! The sort of people who would elect a clown, if the clown was any colour other than white. And yet what has 15 years of ANC rule really brought to these people, just ask the women, the backbone of any African family as anyone who lives here will tell you. Has it brought security, has it put more food on the table, has it improved medical welfare at the local clinics ? NO to all of the above. That is the legacy of 15 years of ANC rule, a party that takes your vote and spits in your face in return. And yet these people will still turn out in their millions on April 22nd and vote, yet agin, for the ANC, blindly believing that things will be different next time around.
Zuma has been accused of being corrupt, and as we all know power does corrupt. If he is elected next month he will attain a life-long ambition and achieve absolute power here in South Africa and, as we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Each vote for the ANC next month will be yet another nail in South Africa’s coffin because there will be no more investment, there will be no more job-creation, there will be only dispair as the economic stability of our Nation crumbles as businesses collapse.
Zuma does not have the moral fibre to lead South Africa out of recession and back onto the road of prosperity for all. We all know the truth behind the Shabir Schaik scandal….Zuma must be held accountable….he is NOT fit to govern our great land.

Posted by cilbuperananab | Report as abusive

I see absolutely no reason why prosecution should be dropped.

It is he who as insisted he wants to appear in court but it is he who has continually delayed the process. So the argument of it taking too long is false. Now is his chance.

Now he has given the NPA “new information” which they have to consider – is this the excuse to withdraw charges. Why does he not simply put all the information he has been fighting to hide in the open.

There is no doubt he influenced the political system by effecting the Nicohlson judgement – how can he claim political influence makes his trial unfair. Influencing the perceptions still doesn’t effect the evidence let us see it in court.

If there are 783 charges how can the ALL be removed.

Read Thought Leader at ews/2009/03/18/the-poeple-shall-govern/

to see it more elloquently!


Zuma sucks

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive


The case against candidate president Zuma should be dropped because South Africa has proved to be incapacitated to deal with complex political offenses. This has cost tax payers billions of rands which could have been used to assist much embattled consumers. Poverty and inequity in South Africa are prevalent and government should priorities these as a matter of urgency then pursuing political motivated case which is wasting billions of taxpayer’s money. Government this year is running budget deficit because revenues have shrunk in response to slowing economic activity and collapsing global trade hence spending should be prioritized.

Posted by Tsunami | Report as abusive

Legal prosedures don’t cost billions of Rand, corruption, however, does. Letting a man even accused of corruption lead this country in this fragile time could prove fatal. Get your info straight. Prosecute the man, if an objective court of law finds him innocent, let that be, but a ruling needs to be given on this matter. The freedom and credibility of every South African is in danger here.

Posted by Paddy | Report as abusive

I may be an outsider coming from Alaska, but I lived in Capetown (I attended UWC) for a good amount of time. I was there during the 2000 US election and was teased that we were having an “African” election. It was joke that contained some truth though. I loved the RSA but I saw it descending into a one-party state. It’s not healthy for a country. As much as we complain about partisan politics, it’s good to have two parties that bicker than it is to only have one party that rubber stamps everything and turns a blind eye to it’s own members. We had a taste of that these last 8 years and look what happened. If these opposition parties hope to have any success then they need to unite under one banner even if they don’t all agree. They need to get past their differences even if they are great because if a legit counter to the ANC doesn’t arise I fear for the long-term stability of RSA and the wider SADC region.

Posted by akryan | Report as abusive

I feel that the situation in South Africa could have been provented. It is worst now with limited educated people ruling the country that when more intellengent leaders were in power. Aids is running wild in South Africa and the ministers and the president have a grade eight level of education and limited knowledge on such issues as AIDS, where they think that if they have a shower or a bath after having sex will stop AIDS. Or by having sex with a minor of virgin will cure them of AIDS, all the while they are spreading AIDS more and more infecting more people and condeming them to a death at a young age. Where are the intellegence of the people in South Africa? I am shocked when I hear of such things, how could any one follow any one with such negelect for life. I would question any one who thinks along the lines as the President and Ministers of South Africa

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I was searching for Zuma game :D
Finally i found it for those who came here by mistake html

Posted by ZUMA | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see