Zuma withdraws ConCourt application against his corruption trial

South Africa's embattled former president Jacob Zuma appears in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on corruption charges, in what would be the first time he faces trial for graft despite multiple accusations, in Pietermaritzburg on October 15, 2019. Picture: Michele Spatari / POOL / AFP

The former president’s representatives are now saying, 17 years since allegations first surfaced, that Zuma has always wanted to clear his name in court.

In a statement on Wednesday the JG Zuma Foundation confirmed that former president Jacob Zuma would no longer be approaching the Constitutional Court to have his prosecution stayed for alleged corruption related to the arms deal.

The foundation said Zuma welcomed the apex court’s acceptance of his withdrawal of his application.

“This indeed paves the way for him to prepare for the trial and demonstrate that he has never benefited from any Arms Deal corruption or tried to evade the trial.

“He hopes that his innocence will indeed be demonstrated for all to see.”

Zuma expressed appreciation for the support he was getting from citizens and said he unreservedly respected the judiciary.

His foundation is chaired by Dudu Myeni, though inquiries were directed to Mabuza Attorneys.

The statement added that Zuma had “always sought the opportunity to clear his name before our courts”.

Earlier this month Zuma fired Daniel Mantsha as his attorney and appointed well-known lawyer Eric Mabuza to represent him in his upcoming trial.

The former president has chopped and changed his legal representation several times over the years.

In a statement at the time, his foundation welcomed the opportunity his trial would “create for South Africans to get much-needed certainty about the bona fides of the state’s case against him as well as shed light on the much-needed certainty as to who exactly benefited from the alleged arms deal corruption” – a sentiment they repeated on Wednesday.

The foundation thanked Mantsha for his services, but said “former president Zuma has unfortunately come to the conclusion that it is in his best interests to part ways with Mr Mantsha at this stage so that he can focus more on the preparation for the trial”.

In March, Zuma’s bid to prevent going to trial for corruption suffered another legal setback after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled he had no reasonable prospects of success.

Zuma’s legal team had filed papers at the SCA late last year to petition the court for the right to appeal against a decision preventing him from enjoying a permanent stay of prosecution on corruption charges in the multibillion-rand arms deal.

In November, Zuma’s application for leave to appeal the judgment that his corruption prosecution should go ahead had been dismissed with costs by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Three judges found there was no compelling reason why Zuma should be granted leave to appeal. The core of his application was his long-time allegation that, due to an unreasonable delay in the commencement of the proceedings, it would not be possible to receive a fair trial.

Zuma was handed a costs order.

The case is expected to resume again on 6 May, though it is unclear if the Covid-19 crisis may affect it.

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