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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 August, 2003, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Case dropped against SA's Zuma
South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma
Zuma is seen as a likely successor to Mbeki
Corruption charges against South Africa's vice-president have been dropped because the chances of a conviction are too slim, the country's top prosecutor said.

Jacob Zuma had been accused in the media of having discussed receiving payments from a foreign company bidding for arms contracts.

"Whilst there is a prima facie case of corruption against the deputy president... we are not sure if we have a winnable case," Prosecutor Bulelani Ngcuka said on Saturday.

Mr Zuma - who is widely seen as a likely successor to President Thabo Mbeki - has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The sooner the matter is concluded the better
Thabo Mbeki
South African president

The body which Mr Ngcuka heads, the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDDP), had used its elite investigating unit, the Scorpions, to examine the allegations against Mr Zuma.

In July, South African President Thabo Mbeki called for the investigation against his deputy to be conducted as quickly as possible.

"You can't have it dragging on forever. The sooner the matter is concluded the better," he said.

Well-known figure

Mr Zuma is one of several high-profile members of the ruling African National Congress who have become embroiled in corruption scandals.

Earlier this year, former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni was sentenced to four years in prison after receiving a discounted luxury car while he negotiated a multi-billion dollar arms deal with companies in Europe and misleading parliament when questioned about the incident.

The case was seen as an important test of the government's commitment to stamping out corruption but the scandal and the accusations surrounding Mr Zuma have dented the image of the ANC party.

Mr Zuma, 61, has a high profile in Africa as a leading negotiator on peace deals in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He is also credited with making peace between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party as apartheid ended in 1994.

Profile: Jacob Zuma
17 Jun 99  |  Africa
Jail term for ANC man
19 Mar 03  |  Africa

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