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South Africa's Zuma Fails to Attend Corruption Inquiry

By VOA News February 15, 2021

Former South African President Jacob Zuma faces time in jail for defying an order to appear Monday before an inquiry into corruption in his government from 2009 to 2018.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, leader of the inquiry, said there was "no valid or sound reason" for Zuma's absence.

Not the first time for Zuma

This is the second time in 2021 that Zuma failed to attend an inquiry.

"The commission will make an application to the constitutional court, which is the court that made the order that Mr. Zuma has defied, and seek an order that Mr. Zuma is guilty of contempt of court," Zondo said.

Zuma, who was removed from office by his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), a year before the end of his second term, has refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

Zuma's lawyers said Monday in a letter that a summons for the 78-year-old former president to attend the inquiry this week was "irregular" and therefore he would not appear. The defense team turned down requests for comment by the Reuters news agency.

Imprisonment next?

Zondo added that Zuma's behavior could inspire others to defy court orders and said the country's constitutional court must decide how to proceed on the matter.

"The commission will approach the constitutional court and ask it to impose a term of imprisonment on Mr. Zuma," Zondo said.

Zuma is facing allegations for allegedly allowing businessmen close to him — the brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta — to plunder state resources and influence policy.

The Gupta family left South Africa upon Zuma's ousting. So far, the former president has been implicated by more than 40 witnesses.

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