Former South African President Jacob Zuma Sentenced to 15 Months in Jail

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 months in jail following his failure to appear before an inquiry looking into the numerous corruption scandals during his presidency.

South Africa’s highest court on Tuesday ordered the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma, the country’s former president, for 15 months on contempt charges, after he defied an order to appear before a corruption inquiry examining the breathtaking financial scandals that tainted his tenure as the country’s leader from 2009 to 2018.

The court ordered the 79-year-old Zuma earlier this year to appear before a special inquiry investigating wide-ranging allegations of looting of state-owned businesses and government departments during his nine-year tenure between 2009 and 2018.  Many of the allegations involve the brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, who were close with Zuma.

Zuma has denied the charges and has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the inquiry, accusing Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the head of the inquiry, of harboring a personal grudge against him.  He is also facing several charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in connection with the purchase of warplanes, naval vessels and other military gear from European arms manufacturers.

During his second appearance, in late 2020, Zuma walked out of proceedings without permission. When he refused to return in January this year, Justice Zondo appealed to the constitutional court, which ordered Zuma to appear.

The investigations of Zuma are part of current President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive to root out festering corruption in South Africa’s government and the ruling African National Congress.  But President

Ramaphosa’s efforts have been met with considerable resistance by a faction of A.N.C. officials who remain loyal to Zuma.

Ramaphosa served as Zuma’s deputy until forcing him out of the party’s leadership and eventually the presidency.

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