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Vol 49 No 16

Published 1st August 2008

South Africa

Blame the judges

It is a testing time for the judiciary as it prepares for the trial of African National Congress President Jacob Zuma. His supporters say the trial is politically motivated and want the charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering thrown out. Obstacles to the prosecution are being sought and threats issued to those judges pressing ahead with the trial. The outcome will determine who in the ANC will stand for election as the next President of South Africa.

Jacob Zuma, having won the election for the presidency of the ruling African National Congress, wants to win next year's election for the presidency of South Africa. He would almost certainly do so if he did not face 16 criminal charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering. His many allies in the governing African National Congress dismiss the charges as a political set-up by Zuma's opponents. In their zeal to defend their leader, Zuma's allies are trying to block the prosecutions by attacking the courts, the prosecuting authorities, the police and the media. This threatens the separation of powers enshrined in the determinedly liberal 1996 post-apartheid constitution. It may also threaten jobs and prosperity, as political interference with the courts often drives away investors.

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