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The way former ANC firebrand Andrew Feinstein tells it in his excellent book “After the Party”, now President Jacob Zuma initially encouraged him to dig into corruption around the 1998 Arms Procurement Deal. But as Feinstein’s investigations started turning up more muck, his one-time Champion withdrew his favour. Not long afterward being stonewalled from on high, Feinstein was replaced as the ANC’s head of the public spending oversight committee. A few months later he resigned, very publicly, and relocated to the UK. The cudgels were then taken up by erstwhile ANC heavyweight, Bulelani Ngcuka, then head of the National Prosecuting Authority. He publicly announced there was a “prima facie” case of corruption against Zuma, but wasn’t confident of being able to win the case in court. Soon afterwards, the husband of former Deputy President and now UN Top Five executive Phumzile, branded him an Apartheid double agent, an allegation of which he was subsequently cleared. But by then Ngcuka had left the NPA. Now comes the third attempt to link Zuma with the notorious plundering of the public purse in the guise of bolstering SA’s military defences. The Official Opposition, the Democratic Alliance, is making the case in court that Zuma abused his power by having the NPA drop Arms Deal corruption charges against him. Zuma’s lawyers claim he has all along been the victim of a political conspiracy engineered by his Presidential predecessor Thabo Mbeki. This is the first of two critical court actions brought against the king of Nkandla – the other, perhaps equally career threatening, is awaiting the Constitutional Court’s judgement. Whatever the verdicts, having the President challenged this way proves that nobody is above the law in a functioning Constitutional Democracy. Something which, right now, is an asset many South Africans are grateful the nation can draw upon. – Alec Hogg
By Jenni Evans, News24
9 September 1999: Patricia De Lille, now DA mayor of Cape Town but then a Pan Africanist Congress MP, tells Parliament the multi-billion rand arms deal could be suspect.
29 November 2002: The Mail & Guardian reports Jacob Zuma is being investigated (Zuma was not president yet).
23 August 2003: Former National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka says there is a prima facie case against Zuma, but it can’t be won.
7 September 2003: City Press runs a story headlined: ‘Was Ngcuka a spy?’ saying the ANC had investigated him during the ’80s on suspicion of being a spy. The Hefer Inquiry can’t establish this and the claim that he misused the prosecuting authority falls away.
25 July 2004: Ngcuka resigns.
2 June 2005: Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, is found guilty on two counts of fraud and one of corruption.
14 June 2005: Former president Thabo Mbeki says he has “released” Zuma from his position as deputy president. Ngcuka’s wife, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is made deputy president.
8 May 2006: Zuma is acquitted on a charge of rape.
25 September 2007: Ngcuka’s successor, Vusi Pikoli, is suspended by Mbeki in a row over the arrest of police commissioner Jackie Selebi. Mokotedi Mpshe becomes acting NDPP.
18 December 2007: Zuma beats Mbeki to the post of president of the ANC.
28 December 2007: Zuma is charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering.
May 2008: Scorpions boss, Leonard McCarthy, claimed by Zuma’s lawyers to be the man driving the prosecution against him, resigns and leaves for a job overseas.
12 September 2008: Judge Chris Nicholson grants Zuma’s application to have corruption charges dismissed and agrees there are signs of a conspiracy.
20 September 2008: Mbeki stands down as president. Kgalema Motlanthe holds the fort until elections in 2009.
12 January 2009: The Supreme Court of Appeals sets aside Nicholson’s judgment and Zuma has to go back to the drawing board.
10 February 2009: Zuma’s lawyers start representations to the NDPP to present new reasons not to go ahead with the prosecution.
20 February 2009: Oral representations made to the NDPP.
6 April 2009: Mpshe announces that charges against Zuma will be dropped. He reads transcripts of phone conversations between McCarthy and Ngcuka, who at one stage says to McCarthy, “you made my day”, after finding out that Zuma will be re-charged.These phone conversations are part of the so-called “spy tapes”. The DA is asking the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday for a review application of the decision to drop the charges against Zuma, arguing it was an irrational decision.
7 April 2009: The case against Zuma is withdrawn in the Durban High Court.
9 May 2009: Zuma is sworn in as president.News24
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.