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South Africa: Political Leader Faces Corruption Charges

(Jan. 2, 2008) Jacob Zuma, the new head of the South African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, faces fresh corruption charges in connection with a US$5 billion arms deal carried out in 1999, according to a BBC news report of December 20, 2007. If Zuma is convicted, his prospects of becoming the next South African president will be over.

Although the charges of corruption, racketeering, and tax evasion come shortly after Zuma's election as head of the ANC, they are not his first run-ins with the law. Zuma was first charged with corruption in 2005. The case was dismissed, however, because the prosecution failed to produce adequate evidence after the court excluded as inadmissible vital incriminating evidence seized by police in a raid on the defendant's home. The charges have now been reinstated, following a South African appellate court ruling in November 2007 that the incriminating evidence that was once deemed inadmissible is in fact legal. Zuma was also tried and acquitted of rape in 2006. Zuma and his supporters claim that the current charges are politically motivated. (South Africa's Controversial Arms Deal, BBC NEWS, Dec. 20, 2007, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7153473.stm.)