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Factbox: South Africa's divisive ex-president Zuma's many scandals

By Reuters | June 30th 2021

Former South African President Jacob Zuma appears in court on charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. [Reuters]

South Africa's constitutional court on Tuesday sentenced ousted president Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry.

Below are some of the main scandals involving Zuma, South Africa's most divisive president since the end of white minority rule in 1994. He was in power from 2009 to 2018.


The public protector, South Africa's main anti-corruption watchdog, published a report in 2016 entitled "State of Capture" alleging that Zuma's friends, the Gupta brothers, had tried to influence the appointment of cabinet ministers and were unlawfully awarded state tenders.

An inquiry was set up in 2018 to examine corruption allegations during Zuma's period in power. Zuma denies wrongdoing and has so far not cooperated.

The Guptas, who also deny wrongdoing, left South Africa after Zuma's ouster.


Zuma is being tried on charges including corruption and fraud relating to a 30 billion rand (now $2 billion) arms deal from the 1990s, when he was deputy president.

The charges were set aside in 2009, paving the way for Zuma to run for president, but were reinstated in 2018. He denies wrongdoing.


Zuma fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, replacing him with unknown parliamentary backbencher Des van Rooyen.

Zuma was forced to sack van Rooyen and re-appoint a previous finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, four days later after the rand collapsed. President Cyril Ramaphosa re-appointed Nene in February 2018.

Later that year, Nene told a judicial corruption inquiry he was fired by Zuma for refusing to approve a $100 billion nuclear power deal with Russia in 2015.


Zuma fired Gordhan as finance minister and Mcebisi Jonas as deputy finance minister in a midnight reshuffle in March 2017. South African financial markets plummeted, with senior officials in the governing African National Congress expressing anger at the lack of consultation.


The Guptas used the top-security Waterkloof air base to fly in 200 guests from India for a family member's wedding in 2013, sparking a public outcry.

The ANC called the landing reckless and a breach of national security.


Soon after becoming president, it emerged that millions of dollars of public money had been spent on upgrades to Zuma's sprawling country estate, including a swimming pool that one minister justified as a fire-fighting resource.

Zuma weathered a no-confidence vote in parliament over the upgrades and paid back more than $500,000 after unsuccessfully trying to argue his case in the constitutional court.


While deputy president of the ANC, Zuma was charged with raping Fezekile "Khwezi" Kuzwayo, the HIV-positive daughter of a friend who had been imprisoned on Robben Island with Zuma during the apartheid era.

Zuma was acquitted in 2006 but was ridiculed after saying he had showered after sex to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

($1 = 14.3612 rand)

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