Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma


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(b. Inkandla, South Africa, 12 April 1942)

South African; Deputy President 1999–2005; President 2009- Jacob Zuma was brought up in Zululand by his widowed mother, and received little formal education. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1959 and its military wing in 1962. In 1963 he was sentenced by South Africa's apartheid government to ten years' imprisonment on Robben Island. In 1975 he left South Africa, and rose within the ranks of the ANC while based in Swaziland and Mozambique. Zuma was one of the first ANC leaders to return to South Africa in 1990 when the ban on the organization was lifted and Nelson Mandela was released from prison. In 1997, Zuma became Deputy President of the ANC and when he was appointed President Thabo Mbeki's Deputy in 1999, it was assumed that Zuma would succeed Mbeki to the presidency. However, in 2005 Zuma was faced with fraud and corruption charges and he was dismissed by Mbeki, but the ANC, preferring him to the rather aloof Mbeki, reinstated him as ANC Deputy President. Zuma faced public humiliation in 2006 when facing rape charges, but he was acquitted. In 2007 the ANC selected Zuma rather than Mbeki as party President, making it virtually certain that Zuma would become South Africa's next President, following elections scheduled for 2009. Mbeki was forced to resign as President in 2008, being replaced by Zuma's ally Kgalema Motlante (Zuma, not being a member of the country's National Assembly, was ineligible at the time). In 2009 prosecutors won the right to recharge him with the fraud and corruption charges, but the case was dismissed just weeks before the general election, which the ANC won convincingly. In May he was elected President by the new Parliament. His new cabinet aims to balance the demands of his core supporters with those of the business community. Joseph Zuma retains strong support in the ANC as a man of the people, and he will need to ensure economic stability so that he can deliver economic benefits to the poor.

Subjects: Politics.

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