South African Court Postpones Hearing On Ex-President Zuma's Corruption Case Until May 17

South African Court Postpones Hearing on Ex-President Zuma's Corruption Case Until May 17

JOHANNESBURG (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 23rd February, 2021) The High Court of the South African city of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal province on Tuesday postponed the hearing on a lawsuit filed by the state against former President Jacob Zuma and French defense firm Thales over illicit arms dealings until May 17.

On Monday, South African Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo filed an urgent application with the Constitutional Court to have Zuma found guilty of contempt of the court, after the former president failed to appear before Zondo for questioning. The chief justice also requested that Police Minister Bheki Cele and Police Commissioner Khehla Sithole be prepared to arrest Zuma.

Spokesman of the South African National Prosecuting Authority Sipho Ngwema told Sputnik that after Zuma appeared briefly in the court this morning, the hearing was delayed until the earliest possible date for a number of reasons.

"The only way the former President would not show up would depend on whether or not it was pre-arranged with the consent of all parties. We are also happy that because this was the earliest available date for all of us," Ngwema said.

Meanwhile, political analyst Professor Kealeboga Maphunye told Sputnik that the proceedings against Zuma were unlikely to undermine stability in the country given its strong democratic traditions and the fact that Zuma is unpopular among South Africa's leadership.

"Given South Africa's 27-year record of a democratically governed country that is committed to the rule of law, there are fewer chances for civil war or political instability. Besides, many members of the governing ANC party do not support the former President on his defiant stance against the Zondo Commission and the Constitutional Court," Maphunye said.

However, Maphunye added that the political situation in South Africa might be destabilized by the actions of Zuma's supporters.

"Yet, the country could face its first and probably the biggest threat to its political stability since it achieved its political independence in 1994 as there have been murmurs and rumours of possible defiance and pro-Zuma demonstrations ever since Zuma began facing possible legal prosecution arising from his corruption-tainted presidential terms," Maphunye said.

Forced out of power in 2018 amid the sprawling corruption scandal, 78-year-old Zuma has been charged with 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering for a 1999 arms deal, and is accused of receiving over $300,000 in a total of 783 payments when he was vice-president.