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The Scandal-Filled Tenure Of South African President Jacob Zuma

South African President Jacob Zuma has never been formally convicted of corruption, but years of allegations against him could force him from office.
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The Scandal-Filled Tenure Of South African President Jacob Zuma

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has never been convicted of corruption. But after so many near misses, his party seems ready to move on without him.

Zuma's political career has been constantly dogged by allegations of bribery over a $5 billion arms deal made in 1999. Zuma was implicated in at least one of the corruption convictions stemming from that deal and was forced out of his role as deputy president at the time.

Zuma has always denied wrongdoing over the affair, and charges against him were dropped shortly before he was first elected president in 2009. But the scandal never fully went away, and in 2016, South Africa's courts ruled Zuma should face those dropped charges after all.

More recently, Zuma's sprawling estate had a taxpayer-funded multimillion-dollar security renovation in 2013. Zuma's government defended the renovations — which included installing a new pool, apparently for fire safety reasons. But a court later ordered him to repay the state for some of those costs.

And Zuma has also been accused of enriching his friends at the state's expense — particularly the Gupta family, an Indian-born trio of brothers linked to corruption allegations. The Guptas have been accused of trying to "capture" South Africa's government with bribes. And Zuma's close ties to the Guptas have been blamed for their rise.

Zuma's second and final presidential term would have expired in 2019 anyway, but it looks like his party wants to show him the door early. In December, the African National Congress party elected Zuma's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its next leader. Ramaphosa is widely seen as Zuma's replacement in the party and has pledged to crack down on corruption.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.