ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tito Mboweni has appealed to former president Jacob Zuma to subject himself to court processes and prove his innocence in his protracted arms deal corruption trial.
“I think that all that he needs to do is to subject himself to the court processes and prove his innocence there,” Mboweni told the BBC’s HARDtalk programme on Monday night.
“I think as somebody who has been in the struggle for so many years, I’m sure he is interested in the protection of our constitutional democracy, the rule of law and that he will subject himself to a fair process of the law. That’s very important.”
Zuma is expected to return to the high court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday to resume his corruption trial after it was delayed last week.
The former statesman and French arms manufacturer Thales are on trial over the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal concluded in the late 1990s.
Zuma is facing 16 counts including fraud‚ corruption, money laundering and racketeering, while Thales faces four counts.
‘None of us is above the law’
Mboweni, who is also the country’s finance minister, told the BBC he had known Zuma for many years. He hoped Zuma would lead by example and subject himself to the rule of law.
“If he does that, it becomes an example of how leadership conducts itself when confronted with such difficult matters.
“This is important for future generations so they can know all of us abide by the law and none of us is above the law,” he said.
South Africa’s Finance Minister @tito_mboweni says former President Zuma ‘needs to subject himself to the court processes and prove his innocence.’ Mr Zuma’s corruption trial opened earlier this month but was adjourned until May 26. He denies the charges. pic.twitter.com/eTyCBqC0E3
— BBC HARDtalk (@BBCHARDtalk) May 24, 2021
Zuma demands acquittal of prosecutor
With his corruption set to resume on Wednesday, Zuma’s legal team has filed court papers requesting the high court to recuse state prosecutor Billy Downer from the case.
In his court papers, Zuma also wants the court to acquit him of all charges should his application to remove Downer succeed.
The former president has argued Downer lacks the independence and impartiality to oversee the trial.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Zuma seemed to be regurgitating old falsehoods in an attempt to delay the trial.
The NPA has always maintained it is ready to proceed with the trial and has lined up 217 witnesses to testify.