South Africa's chief prosecutor set to announce decision on Zuma corruption charges

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FILE PHOTO: South African President Jacob Zuma listens at a news conference in Cape Town

FILE PHOTO: South African President Jacob Zuma listens at a news conference in Cape Town, South Africa, June 14, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's chief prosecutor will announce on Friday whether he is reinstating corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last month.

Zuma faces 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand (1.80 billion pounds) government arms deal in the late 1990s. They were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009.

The deal to buy European military kit has cast a shadow over politics in Africa's most industrialized economy for years.

Zuma - then deputy president - was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.

Shaikh's conviction almost torpedoed Zuma's bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality in 2009.

He became president shortly afterwards, but his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have them reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams will make his announcement at 1330 GMT, according to NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku.

Zuma has already been informed of what Abrahams has decided, the spokesman said.

South Africa's High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year, rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA's initial decision to set aside the charges as "irrational".

It then fell to Abrahams to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Zuma, who resigned as head of state on Feb. 14 on the orders of the ANC.

Zuma said in 2016 that an investigation into the arms deal he ordered five years earlier had found no evidence of corruption in the selection process of arms suppliers. Nor had it found evidence that officials were bribed in an attempt to influence the deal, he said.

Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa's anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.


(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)