Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mbeki 'vindicated' by Zuma ruling

Mbeki 'vindicated' by Zuma ruling
Written by Reuters
Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:24:32 AM

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has said he feels vindicated by a court ruling reviving corruption charges against his rival, Jacob Zuma. Mbeki said the appeals court was right to overrule a judge who suggested he had interfered in the case against the African National Congress leader.

That judgement led the ANC to order Mbeki's resignation as president. Mbeki said lying for political gain was becoming entrenched in South Africa and it would corrupt society.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein said state prosecutors could resurrect their corruption case against Mr Zuma, who is tipped to become South Africa's next president after general elections due this year.

Zuma denies the charges and has unwavering support from the ANC leadership, the trade unions and Communist Party.

His supporters have always said that a series of charges against him were part of a plot to prevent him becoming president.

But judges on Monday cleared Mbeki of allegations of political meddling in the Zuma investigation and ruled High Court Judge Nicholson Chris had "overstepped" his authority.

In a statement, Mbeki lambasted the High Court judge, saying he had made "unjustified findings against persons who were not called upon to defend themselves".

Like the appeals court, Mbeki accused the judge of having failed to distinguish between allegations, facts and suspicions when he made the ruling last September.

Mbeki - who was replaced as president by Zuma ally Kgalema Motlanthe - said he was pleased the appeals court had insisted that nobody's integrity should be attacked on the basis of untested allegations.

Now that the former president has been cleared of taking part in a political conspiracy against his old rival Zuma, some of his backers are calling on the ANC to apologise for sacking him.

The bitter row over whether there was any political interference in the case has already led to several senior ANC officials leaving the party and setting up a rival group - Congress of the People (Cope).

Zuma has said he would resign from public office if convicted. He could still be prosecuted if he became president.

The 16 charges of corruption, money-laundering and racketeering stem from a controversial $5bn (£3.4bn) arms deal in 1999.

In a separate case, Zuma was also charged with rape, but acquitted in 2006.

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