At long last, former president Jacob Zuma is to be charged with the 16 counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering — related to the 1990s arms deal — that he should have faced a decade ago. It’s hard not to wonder whether SA might have been spared the enormous damage that the Zuma years wrought to its institutions, its economy and its social fabric if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had pressed ahead with these charges all those years ago, instead of withdrawing them on the eve of the 2009 general election as the then acting national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe decided to do back in April 2009. The Supreme Court of Appeal in October upheld the high court’s 2016 ruling that Mpshe’s decision was irrational. The Supreme Court’s ruling, which came after Zuma himself, bizarrely, conceded that the decision had been irrational, meant that those 2009 charges stood. Zuma then made representations to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun...

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