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South Africa: Jacob Zuma faces 18 criminal charges on multi-billion rand payments for arms deal

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South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, president until Wednesday when he resigned on live TV, faces an uncertain future as his legal challenges mount and his support network crumbles.

Analysts sketch several scenarios for Zuma, an anti-apartheid activist who rose to the presidency only to become thickly tarred by a reputation for graft.

These include prosecution over a series of corruption charges and then securing a presidential clemency from his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa.

He may also quietly disappear into retirement in his home province of Kwa-Zulu Natal — or even skip the country, according to these narratives.

Zuma faces 18 criminal charges over 783 payments he received linked to a multi-billion rand 1990s arms deal, and the clamor for him to face justice has been growing in recent months.

The charges were set aside just weeks before he became president in 2009. It will now be down to the National Director of Prosecutions to decide whether to reinstate them.

A court recently ruled that the Zuma-appointed chief prosecutor Shaun Abrahams — dubbed “Shaun the Sheep” by media — is compromised and must be replaced.

Ramaphosa’s choice of successor could directly influence the outcome of the decision on whether the charges against Zuma are revived.

Zuma may also face charges over state corruption arising from his links to a controversial Indian business family, the Guptas.

“We are looking at a very awkward, troublesome and uncertain period for Zuma as he defends himself on all these fronts,” commentator Daniel Silke said.

If convicted, Zuma could face decades in jail. Zuma previously spent 10 years in jail on the notorious Robben Island between 1963 and 1973 after being convicted by the apartheid regime of conspiring to overthrow the government.

If Zuma is prosecuted and convicted, the next question is whether Ramaphosa would intervene to pardon the erstwhile president.

On one hand, Zuma was a celebrated anti-apartheid struggle figure who was close to Nelson Mandela and still has huge support — especially in the ANC’s rural heartlands.

On the other, a pardon could taint Ramaphosa’s clean-hands image and give the opposition a stick with which to beat the ANC. General elections are due in 2019.

“Nobody is above the law, even if you are the president. There is no immunity,” said constitutional law expert, Pierre de Vos.

But as sitting president, Ramaphosa “can pardon anyone who has been convicted of a crime,” he said.

With backroom deals being a well-worn feature of South African politics, in return for a quiet departure, Zuma, 75, could have received assurances that he will not be prosecuted or pursued in his elder years.

In that case, it is most likely that he would retreat to his rural Nkandla farmstead in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal in the country’s east.

He could even, after a time, be rehabilitated as a benign national father figure like his two living predecessors Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

South African media has reported that Zuma’s sons have extensive business interests in Dubai and have received personal guarantees from the UAE’s leaders.

In June, the Citizen newspaper published a story headlined “United Arab Emirates a safe haven for SA fugitives hoping to avoid extradition.”

That would mean that Zuma and his family would likely be beyond the reach of South African prosecutors in the sunny emirate.

But analysts predict he will not head abroad.

“Why would Jacob Zuma, who says he has done nothing wrong, want to flee the country?” asked Silke.

“It would be an unpatriotic act not to face the law of the country, especially for a former president.”

At the heart of many scandals surrounding Zuma are the Guptas, whose wealth and influence are huge. However, the family’s power has been shaken in recent days.

Police this week raided the palatial family home in Johannesburg making several arrests and issued a further warrant for family linchpin, Ajay.

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Nigeria General Elections postponement not politically influenced – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared the air, saying its decision to postpone the general elections a few hours to the commencement was not politically influenced.



INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said at a press conference that “The decision has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence and nothing to do with lack of resources.”

The postponement heightens the political tensions in the country, especially between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.

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The parties have accused INEC of kowtowing down to the political influence exerted by either party to postpone the elections which ought to begin the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16 2019.

PDP and APC faulted INEC’s decision to reschedule the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 23 while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.

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Nigeria: Reactions trail INEC Postponement of 2019 General Elections

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Reactions have trailed the decision of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today by a week, citing operational difficulties.



Prior to the postponement of the election, the PDP accused INEC of hoarding the presidential and senatorial elections result sheets for undisclosed reasons.

The party also revealed that its monitoring and intelligence showed that INEC had been distributing sensitive election materials in most states of the federation without the Presidential and Senatorial elections results sheets.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said that the party’s agents were being denied the INEC accreditation and identification cards, ostensibly to shut them out of the election monitoring process and allow the APC a field day to manipulate the process.

According to him, “The development is already heightening tension and suspicion of underhand method by the commission to open the elections for manipulations and allow the APC to enter fictitious results for onward transmission to collation centres.”

The PDP also rejected alleged substitution of the already trained INEC adhoc staff in various states of the federation with members of the APC.
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The party said that PDP would never allow “this unscrupulous attempt at power hijack to stand.”

He stated, “This surreptitious ploy to use APC members as polling staff is a direct template by the APC in collusion with some INEC officials, to rig the elections for the APC.

“This affront to the collective quest by the people for a credible election is akin to sitting our nation on a keg of gunpowder.”

A renowned political analyst in Lagos state, Isaac Abiola on his part expressed displeasure at the postponement, citing the electoral body’s insincerity the worrisome part.

Mr Abiola said “I am disappointed with INEC. It is obvious that they are not sincere with us. INEC till 11:30pm yesterday claimed to have been ready and even tweeted that their situation room was ready. It is not a must to conduct elections when you are not fully ready. But the decision to postponed should have been reached and announced at least 24hrs before election. Why announce 2:30am when people were sleeping. I feel there is an arrangement somewhere.”

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Also Reacting to the postponement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, noted that if the postponement was towards achieving a credible, free and acceptable election, it is in order. According to him, if the reason for the postponment is actually on logistics as it is being said, it is okay instead of the Commission to go ahead and conduct an election that would put it to ridicule both locally and internationally.

Raji, while stating that it is high time Nigerians begin to see election as a process, observed that budgetary allocation for the elections came a little bit late.

According to him election materials are not things people just pick from the shop, hence the commission needs adequate time to plan and arrange for some of this materials.

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On the ruling party’s side, Arc Waziri Bulama, the deputy director general of APC presidential campaign council disclosed the party’s readiness for the forthcoming general elections dismissing claims that the APC was looking for a postponement of the polls. Bulama who disclosed this on Wednesday, February 13, stated that the council had carried its campaign all over the country. He said the responsibilities of leaders was to deliver good governance, secure the lives of Nigerians, ensure that they promote justice, rule of law, peace and freedom through their actions.



Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said the postponement of the general election by Independent National Electoral Commission is “obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.”

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019,” Atiku said in a stateemnt on Saturday.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date,” he added.

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