WATCH | End of an era: the life and times of Jacob Zuma

14 February 2018 - 23:22 By Ernest Mabuza

Jacob Zuma is no longer the president of South Africa. TimesLIVE takes a look back at his tenure leading the country.

President Jacob Zuma has resigned as head of state. We look back at his time in the party and as president of the country.

Zuma, who was president of the African National Congress from December 2007 to December 2017, joined the party at a tender age of 16 in 1959.

He became a member of the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, in 1962 and of the South African Communist Party a year later.

However, Zuma and 35 other recruits were arrested by the apartheid security forces in 1963 on their way to Botswana to undergo military training. He was sentenced to 10 years on Robben Island.

On his return, Zuma re-established underground ANC structures in the present KwaZulu-Natal.

He left for Swaziland in 1975 before moving to Mozambique and later Lusaka, Zambia, in 1986, where he held several senior positions in the party.

He returned to South Africa in 1990.

Zuma was appointed KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic affairs following the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

At the ANC’s elective conference in 1997, he became its deputy president, with Thabo Mbeki as ANC president.

After the 1999 election, Zuma was appointed deputy president of South Africa. He held this position until June 2005, when Mbeki relieved him of his duties following the conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik on corruption and fraud charges.

A few days after Mbeki fired Zuma, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced Zuma would be charged with two counts of corruption and one of fraud. Zuma appeared in court in the same month.

However, the high court in Pietermaritzburg struck Zuma’s case off the roll in 2006 because the prosecution was not ready to proceed.

Zuma was also charged with the rape of an HIV-positive family friend in December 2005. He told the court he had not used a condom when he slept with Fezekile Kuzwayo, and that he took a shower afterwards to minimise the risk of contracting HIV.

Zuma was acquitted of the charge in May 2006 after the high court in Johannesburg agreed with him that the sexual act with Kuzwayo had been consensual.

He was again charged with corruption in December 2007, shortly after becoming ANC president. However, the acting national director of public prosecutions at the time, Mokotedi Mpshe, discontinued his prosecution in April 2009.

His decision followed representations made by Zuma where recordings were presented to Mpshe of conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka.

Mpshe said the conversations – on when to institute criminal proceedings against Zuma, before or after the Polokwane ANC conference in December 2007 – showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.

While Zuma became president on May 9 2009, the corruption charges did not disappear.

Mpshe’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma was successfully challenged by the Democratic Alliance in a series of legal battles beginning in 2007, the last one of which was decided late last year.

The high court in Pretoria set aside Mpshe’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma in 2016. The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Zuma’s appeal against the high court decision.

The National Prosecuting Authority is still to decide when to try Zuma.

Zuma has also courted controversy on improvements at his Nkandla home using taxpayers’ money.

The Public Protector’s report entitled Secure in Comfort in 2014 said when security improvements totalling R264m were made to Zuma’s home‚ a number of structures were built at state expense that were not related to security. These included a kraal, a swimming pool and an amphitheatre.

The Public Protector recommended that the president had to‚ with the assistance of the ministers of police and finance‚ determine the reasonable costs of those features and repay to the state a reasonable portion of that amount.

Zuma ignored this remedial action, forcing the Economic Freedom Fighters to approach the Constitutional Court in 2016 to challenge his refusal to comply. The court held that the failure by the president to comply was inconsistent with the Constitution and was invalid.

The Treasury was ordered to determine the reasonable percentage of the costs of the non-security upgrades. It put this bill at R7.8-million.

There has also been inaction by Zuma in complying with remedial action by the Public Protector on allegations of state capture.

In her last report as Public Protector in November 2016, Thuli Madonsela had recommended that Zuma should appoint a commission of inquiry to conclude the investigations she had identified in the state of capture.

These included the question of whether Zuma had improperly allowed members of the Gupta family and his son Duduzane to be involved in the removal and appointment of various Cabinet ministers.

Zuma only complied with the remedial action in January this year, following the dismissal of his application to review the Public Protector’s report.

Jacob Zuma may no longer be the president of South Africa, but we will miss his charisma. Here are some of the moments during his reign that made him the president with charm.