South Africa’s Zuma make New Moves to Oust Main Prosecutor in Corruption Trial

Zuma is pursuing private prosecution actions to oust the main prosecutor
Zuma is pursuing private prosecution actions to oust the main prosecutor

Following the failure of court challenges, former South African President Jacob Zuma’s foundation said on Sunday that Zuma is pursuing private prosecution actions to oust the main prosecutor in an arms deal corruption trial.

Zuma’s last attempt to have lead prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the case was thwarted last month by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which accused him of prejudice and of leaking secret information to a journalist in violation of the national prosecution act, among other things.

The SCA denied the application for leave to appeal, stating that there is no reasonable likelihood of victory and no other compelling cause to hear the appeal.

Lead prosecutor Billy Downer
Head prosecutor Billy Downer

Zuma’s instructions to his legal team to begin private prosecution “will now be put into practice in the next few days,” Mzwanele Manyi, a spokesman for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, said during a press conference.

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Zuma’s legal team has also filed a reconsideration application with the SCA’s president, as well as a petition to hear the appeal, according to him.

Zuma has pleaded not guilty to accusations of corruption, money laundering, and racketeering in the long-running investigation over the $2 billion arms deal in the 1990s. He was removed from the ruling African National Congress in 2018 after nearly two decades as president.

Zuma has been hounded by the transaction ever since he was fired as the country’s deputy president in 2005. He claimed that he had been the target of a political witch hunt.

The long-awaited trial is slated to begin on Monday, and Zuma will be present in court.

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Zuma, who turns 80 on Tuesday, is seeking a postponement, according to Manyi, because “it is apparent that the conditions for a fair trail are non-existent.”

On Monday, his team will also react to the National Prosecution Authority’s supplementary affidavit, which seeks to incorporate additional evidence into the trial.

“All His Excellency President Zuma really wants is his day in court, in a fair trial and certainly not in a forum which is being rigged by the State,” Manyi said.

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