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South Africa high court refuses Mbeki appeal of Zuma ruling

[JURIST] The South African Constitutional Court [official website] Wednesday refused to hear an appeal brought by former president Thabo Mbeki [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of a lower court ruling that dismissed corruption charges against his rival, African National Congress (ANC) [party website] president Jacob Zuma [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and suggested he Mbeki had a role in bringing them. The Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed [decision, PDF; JURIST report] corruption charges against Zuma in September after finding that the decision to prosecute him was invalid because Zuma was not given a chance to respond to the allegations against him. The Constitutional Court's rejection of Mbeki's appeal application comes after a judge gave prosecutors leave to appeal the ruling [JURIST report] in October. The Constitutional Court said it was not appropriate to hear the appeal "at this stage." Zuma is expected to become president after next year’s elections, although he has pledged to resign if convicted. Zuma contends the charges [JURIST report] were prompted by Mbeki, and their initial dismissal in September exacerbated existing divisions within the party. Mbeki was forced to resign in the wake of the ruling last month, and his loyalists have threatened to leave the ANC to form a splinter party. BBC News has more. From South Africa, IOL has local coverage.

Zuma defeated Mbeki for the ANC leadership in party elections held in December 2007. He was ousted [JURIST report] as the country’s deputy president in 2005 after an aide was convicted of corruption. He was also charged with rape, but ultimately acquitted and reinstated [JURIST report] as ANC deputy vice president. In late July, the South African Constitutional Court rejected a motion [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] by Zuma to exclude evidence from the corruption trial. Zuma had argued [JURIST report] that evidence seized in 2005 raids by the Directorate of Special Investigations [official backgrounder; BBC report] should be thrown out because the raids violated his rights to privacy and a fair trial. The court upheld the validity of the warrants used in the raids, confirming a November 2007 decision [JURIST report] by the South African Supreme Court of Appeal. The court also held [opinion, PDF; summary] that papers obtained by the Mauritius government [JURIST report] believed to document meetings between Zuma and arms manufacturer Thint were also admissible. Zuma has been facing corruption allegations [BBC timeline] and other charges for several years. He was first charged with corruption in 2005, but those charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] because prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures.

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