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Latest investigation further indicts former South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma of corruption charges

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The latest report by the commission of inquiry on the ongoing corruption trial of former South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has found that the ex-president was prepared to do anything requested by the controversial Gupta family, which has fled from South Africa.

The embattled ex-president failed at another appeal attempt to further delay his corruption trial last month as the Supreme Court of Appeal has rejected his latest bid.

Mr. Zuma’s corruption trial began last year in May, after numerous postponements and delays due to a number of appeals. Last year, the country’s highest Constitutional Court in South Africa sentenced Zuma to 15 months imprisonment after he failed to appear at the Zondo corruption inquiry despite being instructed to do so.

The latest investigation that looked into moves to loot South Africa’s state coffers during the presidency of Jacob Zuma (2009-2018) was handed over to the presidency on Friday.

According to the report, “the Guptas set up a plan to take over Eskom” and former president Jacob Zuma was “a key player” in interfering in their favour in the composition of the board.

The former management, against whom Judge Zondo is recommending criminal proceedings, is suspected of having entered into irregular contracts worth more than €96 million (R1.6 billion) with consultancy firms.

A coal supply contract with a Gupta-owned entity, Tegeta, worth more than €221 million (R3.7 billion) was also tainted by irregularities.

“It is clear that from the beginning of his first term in office, President Zuma did everything the Guptas wanted,” Judge Zondo said.

Jurist Raymond Zondo was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March as the country’s head of the constitutional court, the country’s highest court.

The company said it had been the victim of “immense prejudice” and said in a statement that “appropriate action” would be taken if anyone involved was still employed.

The final report is due by 15 June. President Cyril Ramaphosa will then have to decide whether to prosecute.

Politics

ECOWAS folds, lifts economic, travel sanctions on junta-led Niger, others

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Economic sanctions on Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso were lifted with immediate effect by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday.

This came after the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held an unprecedented meeting at the State House in Abuja, where they deliberated for hours on the political, peace, and security situation in the region.

Mali and its bordering junta-run nations, Niger and Burkina Faso, abruptly announced last month that they were abandoning ECOWAS, the largest political and economic union in West Africa, reversing decades of regional integration.

The ECOWAS Commission President, Dr. Omar Touray, announced the Authority’s resolutions and stated that it has halted the closing of the air and land border with Niger, creating a no-fly zone for any commercial aircraft.

Additionally, it has halted the unfreezing of all of Niger’s assets at EBID and the freezing of any financial transactions involving the central bank of the ECOWAS states and Niger.

Additionally, it removed the restriction on military junta members’ and their families’ travel. “Based on humanitarian considerations due to lent and the approaching month of Ramadan,” according to Touray, the decision was made.

Sanctions against Mali citizens being elected to ECOWAS positions were also lifted by the authority. Along with the lifting of sanctions against Guinea, all four nations were extended an invitation to future ECOWAS technical consultative meetings.

Additionally, ECOWAS requested that the member states that were withdrawing reevaluate their choice in light of the advantages their citizens had received.

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Senegalese opposition condemns President Sall’s ‘slow’ election date announcement

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The opposition presidential contenders in Senegal have claimed that the government is taking too long to announce a new date for the poll, following a court ruling that declared a 10-month postponement to be illegal.

This occurs just a few days after President Macky Sall pledged to comply with the Constitutional Council’s position that the election be held as soon as feasible following the parliament’s resolution to reschedule the election—which was initially set for February 25—was overruled by the court.

The situation in one of the more stable democracies in coup-hit West Africa led to violent public protests and threats of authoritarian overreach, and Sall came under intense pressure both domestically and internationally to accept the council’s decision.

However, no new date has been announced, which has angered opposition candidates who want the election to happen before Sall’s term expires on April 2.

In a joint statement released late on Tuesday, sixteen out of the nineteen presidential candidates bemoaned the “inexplicable slowness” with which the council’s decision was implemented.

It was their contention that Sall’s tardy return to electoral duty demonstrated his reluctance to initiate a process that would result in a transfer of power. A request for response from the presidency was not answered.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said that there was room for discussion over the expiration of Sall’s mandate on April 2.

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