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Jacob Zuma Appears In Court Again Over Corruption Charges

As Ramaphosa set to discuss nuclear deal with Putin

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South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma appeared at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal in the late 1990s, but a judge adjourned the case to Nov. 30, reports Reuters.

Zuma, who appeared in court in a dark suit and red tie, faces 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a deal to buy European military hardware to upgrade South Africa’s armed forces after the end of apartheid in 1994.

The case is a rare example of an African leader being held to account for his actions. Zuma, who was ousted by the ruling party in February, denies any wrongdoing.

His lawyer Mike Hellens asked the judge to allow the former president’s legal team to file a permanent stay of prosecution against the charges.

Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo said the defence should have adequate time to prepare that application.

The state will then give its response to the application on Nov. 30.

In anther development, the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week ended with an agreement that the two countries would discuss a nuclear power deal in the future.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa attend a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa July 26, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

Ramaphosa has put nuclear expansion on the back burner since taking office in February, saying it is too expensive, and has focused instead on pledges to revive the economy and crack down on corruption.

His scandal-plagued predecessor, Jacob Zuma, had championed a deal to dramatically increase South Africa’s nuclear capacity despite concern from ratings agencies that it would deal a further blow to the country’s already strained public finances.

“We have huge financial constraints, we are not able to proceed with a nuclear build programme,” Ramaphosa told a news conference at the end of the BRICS summit.

“President Putin was quite relaxed about this. He said you deal with your issues and when the situation changes we can keep talking about this. And that’s where we left it. There’s no other hidden agenda,” Ramaphosa added.

Kremlin-controlled Rosatom, a clear leader in the global nuclear industry, was one of the front runners for the massive nuclear project championed by Zuma.

A Rosatom executive told Reuters on Thursday that the company was “still interested” in helping South Africa expand its nuclear capacity.

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