Lawyers acting for former South African President Jacob Zuma argued that corruption charges against him dating back almost two decades should be scrapped because the case against him is politically motivated and has been unreasonably delayed by the state.

Musi Sikhakhane told the High Court in the city of Pietermaritzburg on Monday that the former chief prosecutor who pushed for the charges, Bulelani Ngcuka, was an ally of Thabo Mbeki, who ruled from 1999 until 2008 and sought to block Zuma from succeeding him as leader of the ruling party and the country. South Africa’s appeals court ruled in October 2017 that the trial could go ahead.

The state alleges that Zuma, who served for almost nine years as president, took bribes from arms dealers and charged him on 16 counts ranging from corruption to racketeering. The African National Congress forced him to step down in February last year and replaced him with Cyril Ramaphosa, who has pledged to clamp down on corruption. French arms company Thales SA is also an accused and has filed for the case to be scrapped as it argues it won’t get a fair trial.
Prosecutors have said they have a strong case and the trial should to go ahead, and they will argue their case at the court hearing, which is scheduled to end by the end of the week.

Zuma told a crowd of several hundred supporters outside the courthouse what judges had found in the past that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but prosecutors continued to reinstate stale charges and were violating his rights.

“The court has given us a chance to state our reasons for the charges to be set aside,” he said. “I should not have been accused of anything.”


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