re posted from Presstv.com
South Africa’s Zuma censures judiciary amid corruption probe
South African President Jacob Zuma has censured an investigation into corruption allegations against him as a new example of the judiciary’s growing interference in the democratic system.
“There’s no longer any space for democratic debate. The only space there is for court arguments by lawyers. That’s not democracy,” Zuma said on Saturday.
The embattled president ensured his supporters in his home province of Kwa-Zulu Natal that the investigation into alleged influence peddling in his government and a potential prison sentence would not scare him at all as he had been imprisoned during the fight against South Africa’s apartheid, which ended 22 years ago.
“I’m not scared of jail. I’ve been to jail during the struggle,” said Zuma of the years when he fought alongside late Nelson Mandela to free South Africa from discrimination.
Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), a party founded by Mandela that has been ruling South Africa since 1994, has faced an array of charges over the past years.
The charges range from Zuma’s misuse of government resources for personal purposes to influencing elements in the administration to funnel money to close allies and friends.
South Africa’s anti-graft watchdog, known as the Public Protector, said last week that it had ordered an investigation into claims of financial wrongdoings in Zuma’s government.
The president and some cabinet members and state companies are accused of acting improperly in their dealings with wealthy Indian businessmen, namely the Gupta brothers.
The Public Protector released a 355-page probe showing that Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, who are friends of Zuma and work with his son, had benefitted from “extraordinary and unprecedented” government intervention in a private business. Zuma denies allegations of providing special favors to the Indian friends.
The hype around Zuma’s influence peddling grew after reports emerged last month showing that he was behind a court action against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a relatively popular and successful economist and politician in the eye of many people. Gordhan is facing corruption charges.
Mass protests have erupted across South Africa with many calling for Zuma’s resignation in the face of growing political and economic woes. Zuma should also face a vote of confidence in parliament next week. He has survived two similar votes this year.
Senior elements inside the ANC have also called for the collective resignation of the party’s senior figures to open the way for a new and young leadership and to save the party from the current turmoil.