The 11 judges of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, yesterday sentenced the country’s former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. The decision comes just over four months after Zuma failed to appear before a corruption inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The decision by the Constitutional Court is the latest twist in the long-running saga of trying to bring Zuma to justice.
In 2018 the then President Zuma was ousted from power by the ANC government in a move headed by the man who was to replace him as president, Cyril Ramaphosa, after Zuma was embroiled in allegations of grand corruption.
Graft and Illicit Arms Deals Allegations
One area of investigation into Zuma’s time as both Deputy President and later President of South Africa was conducted by the Zondo Commission which looked into allegations of the plundering of state resources and improperly influencing government policy involving the Indian businessmen Atul Ajay and his brother Rajesh Gupta. The Gupta’s denied wrongdoing but fled South Africa after Zuma’s ousting as president.
Another investigation was in respect of a court case relating to a $2 billion (Sh215.5 billion) arms deal struck in 1999.
Whether Jacob Zuma will end up behind bars is another matter.
A spokesman for Zuma has reportedly said that his lawyers would study the Constitutional Court’s judgment before any further statement would be made.
Jacob Zuma also retains considerable support from within South Africa’s governing African National Conference (ANC).