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South Africa congressional leader Zuma calls for review of high court's authority

[JURIST] South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) [official website] leader Jacob Zuma [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday called on the Judicial Service Commission [governing statute text] to conduct a review of the country's Constitutional Court [official website], saying the court has too much power and had abused its authority. Zuma also criticized the country's judiciary and prosecutors for pursuing corruption charges [JURIST report] against him, in what he said was an attempt to undermine his leadership [Pretoria News report] of the ANC. Earlier this week, the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) [official website] decided to drop the charges [JURIST report] against Zuma, but opponents have criticized the move [Star report]. A spokesman for the Congress of the People [party website] party said that if Zuma is able to weaken the Constitutional Court, it would not be able restrain his use of power should he become president in upcoming elections.

The NPA's decision to drop the charges against Zuma came at the end of a long legal battle. In January, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa [official website] reinstated the charges against Zuma, which had been invalidated [JURIST reports] in September. In July, the Constitutional Court rejected a motion [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 should be thrown out because the raids violated his rights to privacy and a fair trial. The court upheld the warrants used in the raids, confirming a November 2007 decision [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court of Appeal. Zuma 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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