A court in South Africa has ruled that a 2009 decision to drop 783 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma was irrational and should be reviewed – another setback for the scandal-ridden leader.
The decision to set aside the charges seven years ago allowed Zuma to run for president.
The High Court’s decision at the time was based on phone intercepts presented by Zuma’s legal team that suggested the timing of the charges in late 2007 may have been part of a political plot against Zuma.
The court ruling does not automatically reinstate the charges against Zuma. A legal process involving state prosecuting authorities and the courts must reach a decision on whether to charge the president.
The president’s office said that it has noted and will give consideration to the 2009 court ruling.
“These charges were formally withdrawn by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg during April 2009 and as such there is no pending litigation before court against President Zuma,” Zuma’s office said in a statement.
“As a party to the proceedings, the president has noted the decision of the court and will give consideration to the judgment and its consequences and the remedies available in terms of our law.”
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The go-ahead from the court adds pressure on Zuma, who has faced calls for his resignation even from inside the ruling African National Congress party since a damning constitutional court judgement against him last month.
“This is a hugely significant decision,” Al Jazeera’s Tania Page said, reporting from Pretoria. “Yet another big blow for President Jacob Zuma.”
Application for review of the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision seven years ago to drop the charges against Zuma was made by the country’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA).
After the high court’s ruling, James Selfe, the DA’s federal executive chairman, told Al Jazeera that they are “delighted by the outcome.
“We have been at this case for seven years. This is what we wanted right from the start,” he said. “We believe that the decision to drop the prosecution was irrational.”
It was not immediately clear whether Zuma would appeal against Friday’s court ruling, according to Reuters news agency.
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