South Africa’s chief prosecutor said on Friday he will charge former President Jacob Zuma with corruption over an arms deal.
Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said he had notified the president, who was replaced as leader of the ruling ANC party in December 2017, in writing.
“After consideration of the matter, I am of the view that there are reasonable prospects of successful prosecution of Mr Zuma on the charges listed in the indictment,” Mr Abrahams said.
Mr Zuma disputes all the allegations against him.
The former South African premier faces 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) government arms deal in the late 1990s.
They were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Mr Zuma ran for president in 2009.
— eNCA (@eNCA) March 14, 2018
The deal to buy European military kit has cast a shadow over politics in Africa’s most industrialized economy for years.
Mr Zuma – then deputy president – was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.
Mr Shaikh’s conviction almost torpedoed Mr Zuma’s bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality in 2009.
He became president shortly afterwards, but his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have them reinstated. Mr Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.
South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year, rejecting an appeal by Mr Zuma and describing the NPA’s initial decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.
It then fell to Mr Abrahams to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Mr Zuma, who resigned as head of state on Feb. 14 on the orders of the ANC.
Mr Zuma said in 2016 that an investigation into the arms deal he ordered five years earlier had found no evidence of corruption in the selection process of arms suppliers. Nor had it found evidence that officials were bribed in an attempt to influence the deal, he said.
Mr Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Mr Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts.
The Guptas and Mr Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.