Saturday, September 13, 2008



Friday, September 12 2008
Daily Nation
South Africa

Mr Zuma is virtually guaranteed the presidency in 2009 elections.

A South African judge threw out corruption charges against ruling party leader Jacob Zuma on Friday, clearing the way for him to become the country’s next president.

Judge Chris Nicholson granted Mr Zuma’s application to have corruption charges dismissed and ordered the state to pay the African National Congress (ANC) leader’s legal costs.

South African government bonds firmed after the ruling, closely watched by investors worried that his union and communist allies may push him away from pro-business policies if he becomes president.


Judge Nicholson said there had been political interference in Mr Zuma’s case, an allegation made by his supporters, who say Mr Zuma was the victim of a political witch-hunt by his rival South African President Thabo Mbeki.

“I am therefore not convinced that the applicant (Zuma) was incorrect when he averred political meddling in his prosecution,” Mr Justice Nicholson said.

Mr Zuma’s advocate, Mr Kemp J. Kemp, said the defence had always been confident of success.

Mr Zuma is virtually guaranteed the presidency in 2009 elections because of the ANC’s electoral dominance.

Analysts said the judge’s decision cleared the way for him to become South Africa’s president.

“I should imagine that people will be quite relieved that the storm is over...the courts are quite respected. I presume this clears the way for a Zuma presidency,” said Mr Brian Kantor, political analyst at Investec Securities.

South African government bonds firmed slightly after the verdict, with the yield on the 2015 issue down to 9.13 percent after the ruling, from 9.145 percent before.

The rand was slightly weaker at 8.1495 to the dollar, compared to 8.1250 just before the ruling.

Foreign investors have been concerned that Mr Zuma’s left-leaning union allies would pressure him to stray from pro-business policies if he becomes leader of Africa’s biggest economy.

He has tried to reassure them that he is committed to economic growth.

Emotions have been running high in the build-up to Mr Zuma’s court appearance on Friday. Hundreds gathered and sang songs backing him outside the court.

The ANC leader has made a remarkable comeback despite the damage to his image. He has been more decisive than Mr Mbeki on the post-election turmoil in Zimbabwe. He has stayed close to unions, promised to help the poor and courted foreign investors.

Reacting to the court ruling, the ANC said: “It is a victory for justice and the constitution”.