South African media on Tuesday bemoaned prosecutors' decision to drop corruption charges against ruling party boss Jacob Zuma, warning the truth behind an arms scandal might never emerge.A front-page editorial in the Cape Times declared the National Prosecuting Authority had done "the country no favours" in dropping the charges, saying this left too many unanswered questions."It is a great pity that we may never know whether the hands of the country's next president are clean or not," read the editorial.
Prosecutors on Monday announced they would drop the charges against Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) who is almost certain to become South Africa's next president following general elections in two weeks.The head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Mokotedi Mpshe said that wire-tap recordings showed senior officials conspiring to manipulate the legal process around the ANC's political calendar, sparking calls for further investigation into possible wrong-doing within the justice system."Zuma: joy, dismay as NPA abandons corruption case," read the headline of the Business Day newspaper, with a large photo of a Zuma supporter weeping with joy.
The newspaper said the ANC leader had cleared "the last remaining obstacle" to his presidency."It may have spared Zuma a trial, but it has damned him and the ANC to the enduring hell of suspicion and doubt," said the newspaper, also in a front page editorial.The newspaper said Mpshe's decision to set Zuma free "was planting a cancer in the coming Zuma presidency."
The Star reported on the ANC's wish to see the former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka and former head of the now defunct crime-fighting Scorpions unit Leonard Mcarthy "to be punished for alledgedly conspiring against Jacob Zuma.""Ncguka, McCarthy to be first targets of a jubilant ANC," said the daily newspaper.The Times declared: "Ngcuka to be charged."According to The Citizen, the NPA decision was "Spineless!"
The charges against Zuma will be formally withdrawn in court on Tuesday, but the opposition has already filed a petition demanding a judicial review of the prosecutors' decision.