Six political scandals President Zuma has survived

From ‘Guptagate’ to a rape acquittal, a list of political scandals that have tarnished the president’s career.

A vote of no confidence on South African President Jacob Zuma will be held by secret ballot [Reuters]

A vote of no confidence on South African President Jacob Zuma will be held by secret ballot on Tuesday.

The move could encourage some ruling party MPs to oust him.

The president, who came to power in 2009, has been implicated in multiple corruption scandals, while the country’s economy has fallen into recession and unemployment has risen to record levels.

Here are some of the corruption scandals he managed to escape:

Rape acquittal

Before taking office, Zuma was acquitted in 2006 of charges of raping a much younger HIV-positive woman, based on his testimony that the sex was consensual.

He shocked the nation by saying he had taken a shower after sex to avoid contracting the virus. The president has also sparked criticism with his polygamous lifestyle – he currently has four wives – and has reportedly sired children out of wedlock.

Clearing the way for 2009 win

A court challenge is currently under way to reinstate 783 corruption charges against Zuma that were dropped shortly before he won the 2009 elections.

The charges are related to a multimillion-dollar arms deal signed in 1999 when Zuma was deputy president.

The charges had been dropped by prosecutors arguing that the case was politically motivated, a move which critics see as having cleared the way for Zuma to win the elections.

Home Improvements 

The corruption scandal perhaps most damaging for Zuma was related to his rural homestead in Nkandla. An anti-graft ombudsman ruled in 2014 that he had unduly used taxpayers’ money for upgrades to the homestead.

Zuma defeated impeachment proceedings over the scandal in April 2016, but was ordered by the Constitutional Court and the Treasury to repay the government 7.8m rand ($587,800).


Zuma has also come under fire over alleged influence-peddling involving the Gupta business family, which reportedly secured government tenders and even influenced ministerial appointments. 

Last year, former anti-graft ombudsman Thuli Madonsela released a report calling for a judicial investigation into the allegations.

In May, thousands of emails leaked to the press reportedly exposed the close relations between Zuma, his allies and the three Gupta brothers, suggesting that they hosted cabinet ministers and directors of state-owned companies on luxury trips to their home in Dubai.

Zuma denied reports that the Guptas had been preparing to set up a second home for him in Dubai. 

Finance minister who?

In December 2015, Zuma suddenly fired popular finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, replacing him with an unknown legislator.

The appointment sparked an outcry which forced Zuma to replace the parliamentarian with former finance minister Pravin Gordhan within a few days.

In March, Zuma sacked Gordhan, further undermining investor confidence and prompting two ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk.

Trouble with the ICC

In March 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a judgment that Zuma’s government had acted illegally when failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, when he was attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg in 2015.

The blow to South Africa’s reputation is believed to have contributed to its decision to leave the ICC in October 2016. In July, the ICC ruled that South Africa had violated its rules when failing to arrest al-Bashir.

Source: Al Jazeera, DPA