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South Africa Faces a Sitting President With 783 Counts of Alleged Corruption

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On January 10, the African National Congress (ANC) -- South Africa's ruling party -- celebrated their 97 years in existence at a packed ABSA Stadium in East London. The celebration, which drew more than 60 000 members from across the country, also marked the start of the organization's 2009 election manifesto, and the official endorsement of Jacob Zuma as the ANC's presidential candidate.

One of the promises he addressed to the nation was that of a corrupt-free government:

"The ANC will step up measures in the fight against corruption within its ranks and the state. This will include measures to review the tendering system, to ensure that ANC members in business, public servants and elected representatives do not abuse the state for corrupt practices. It is imperative to ensure that politicians and civil servants do not tamper with the adjudication of tenders. Measures will be taken to ensure transparent process of the tendering system as well as ensuring much stronger accountability of the public servants involved in tendering process."

He also showed that unlike his predecessor and nemisis, former President Thabo Mbeki, he is a pro-poor people's person by promising, amongst others to:

Improve access to education for the poor by ensuring that 60% of schools are no-fee schools. Better resources, equipment and remuneration to the police and nurse -- most of which belong to the party's left wing alliance partner COSATU. An accelerated and vigorous development of rural areas where the poor are still without the promised and much-needed subsidised housing. (full detailed manifesto here).

Come two days later, the party was swiftly brought back down to earth, when a full bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) -- the second highest court in the land -- ruled in favor of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), giving them the power to re-instate all 783 counts of alleged corruption, of which they have confirmed they will do even if Zuma is the President of the Republic.

Now, you would have thought, would you not -- given the fact that he will spend much of his Presidency in court than in government -- that ideally the organization (if not himself) will recuse him at least until such time that he clears his name in court. But alas, the ANC, mediocre as usual, are adamant that Zuma is their candidate through and through, and this judgment will not deter them from recalling him. This was two days after party told the country they plan to stamp out corruption and nepotism.

Of course he has the right to clear his name, and use whatever legal courses available to him to prove his innocence. And he is doing so, by going to the highest court in the land -- The Constitutional Court -- which he hopes will overturn the SCA's decision and throw out all the allegations leveled against him. But this fact remains: he is not in the Presidency yet, but his leadership skills are already highly questionable.