South Africa may drop Zuma graft charges

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African prosecutors were considering a legal request by ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma to drop graft charges against him, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Wednesday.

A decision to drop the charges could boost the ANC’s campaign for parliamentary and local authority elections on April 22 — expected to be the most closely contested poll since apartheid ended in 1994.

"The matter is under consideration. Mr. Zuma has made representations to the NPA…possibly to change the complexion of the decision that has been taken by the NPA to institute criminal proceedings against him," NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali told Reuters.

"It is that exercise that needs to (be) allowed time … before we can say that the NPA is continuing or not continuing with this (case). We will announce our decision when we are ready to do so."

South African newspapers and radio reported that the NPA would meet later in the day to make a decision, but Tlali declined to confirm this.

The corruption case has dogged Zuma for years, creating political uncertainty in Africa’s biggest economy. The ANC leader has denied wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a political conspiracy.

The ANC faces its most serious election test in the April vote since coming to power, but the party’s electoral dominance will almost certainly assure victory with Zuma becoming South African president.

The ANC faces a challenge at the election from the breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) and growing public frustration with corruption, poor services and widespread poverty and crime.