S. Africa ex-President, Zuma, sues Ramaphosa

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, has charged current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in a private prosecution, a move Ramaphosa rejects as an “abuse of legal processes”.

This comes as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) begins its national elective conference yesterday to decide whether Ramaphosa will stand for president in South Africa’s next election in 2024. Ramaphosa has led the ANC since he took over from Zuma in 2017.

Zuma initiated the proceedings on Thursday, accusing Ramaphosa of being an alleged “accessory” in the leaking of a confidential medical document about him to the media.

The case is linked to Zuma’s long-running, but so far unsuccessful campaign to remove prosecutor, Billy Downer, who is pursuing the ex-president on corruption charges related to a 1990s arms deal.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has been charged in a private prosecution with the criminal offence of being accessory after the fact in the crimes committed by, among others, Advocate Downer, namely breaching the provisions of the (National Prosecuting Authority) NPA Act,” the Jacob Zuma Foundation said in a statement.

“The serious crimes for which Mr Ramaphosa has been charged with in a court of law carry the sentence of 15 years in prison,” it added.

In response, the presidency issued a statement on Friday saying: “President Cyril Ramaphosa rejects with the utmost contempt Mr Jacob Zuma’s abuse of legal processes and perversion of the ‘nolleprosequi’ (private prosecution) provision.”

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“Mr Zuma charges that President Ramaphosa is an ‘accessory after the fact’ in a criminal offence alleged against Advocate William Downer – the allegation is that Advocate Downer improperly shared information, in terms of the NPA Act.”

“Mr Zuma’s charges are based on an accusation that President Ramaphosa failed to act after Mr Zuma complained about improper conduct by Advocates Downer and Breitenbach. These charges are completely spurious and unfounded,” it later added.

ANC delegates are converging in Johannesburg from Friday until Tuesday next week to pick their candidate for leader of the ruling party – historically the ticket that decides who leads the country, as the ANC has won every national election since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Ramaphosa is seeking a second term amid widespread criticism over a scandal involving a burglary that took place on his private farm in 2020. Last month a report by a panel of experts found preliminary evidence he may have violated the constitution over a stash of foreign currency hidden at his property.


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