Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (Zulu: [geɮʱejiɬeˈkisa ˈzʱuma]; born 12 April 1942) is a South African politician who served as the fourth president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018. He is also referred to by his initials JZ and clan names Nxamalala and Msholozi. Zuma was a former anti-apartheid activist, member of uMkhonto we Sizwe, and president of the African National Congress (ANC) from 2007 to 2017.
Zuma was born in the rural region of Nkandla, which is now part of the KwaZulu-Natal province and the centre of Zuma's support base. He joined the ANC at the age of 17 in 1959 and spent ten years in Robben Island Prison as a political prisoner. He went into exile in 1975 and was ultimately appointed head of the ANC's intelligence department. After the ANC was unbanned in 1990, he quickly rose through the party's national leadership and became deputy secretary general in 1991, national chairperson in 1994, and deputy president in 1997. He was the deputy president of South Africa from 1999 to 2005 under President Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela's successor. Mbeki dismissed Zuma on 14 June 2005 after Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of making corrupt payments to Zuma in connection with the Arms Deal. Zuma was charged with corruption and was also acquitted on rape charges in the highly publicised 2006 trial. He managed to retain the support of a left-wing coalition inside the ANC, which allowed him to remove Mbeki as ANC president in December 2007 at the ANC's Polokwane elective conference.
Zuma was elected president of South Africa in the 2009 general election and took office on 9 May. The criminal charges against him were formally withdrawn the same week. As president, he launched the R4-trillion National Infrastructure Plan and signed a controversial nuclear power deal with the Russian government, which was blocked by the Western Cape High Court in 2017. As a former member of the South African Communist Party, he increasingly relied on left-wing populist rhetoric, and in his 2017 State of the Nation address he announced a new policy of "radical economic transformation". Few of the attendant policy initiatives were implemented before the end of his presidency, but they included land expropriation without compensation, free higher education, a series of attempted structural reforms in key sectors involving restrictions on foreign ownership, and more stringent black economic empowerment requirements. In the international arena, Zuma emphasised South-South cooperation and economic diplomacy. The admission of South Africa to the BRICS grouping has been described as a major triumph for Zuma, and he has been praised for his HIV/AIDS policy.
Zuma's presidency was beset by controversy, especially during his second term. In 2014, the Public Protector found that Zuma had improperly benefited from state expenditure on upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, and in 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution, leading to calls for his resignation and a failed impeachment attempt in the National Assembly. By early 2016, there were also widespread allegations that were investigated by the Zondo Commission between 2018 and 2021. They claimed the Gupta family had acquired immense corrupt influence over Zuma's administration that amounted to state capture. Several weeks after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to succeed Zuma as ANC president in December 2017, the ANC National Executive Committee recalled Zuma. After a fifth vote of no confidence in Parliament, he resigned on 14 February 2018 and was replaced by Ramaphosa the next day.
Shortly after his resignation on 16 March 2018, the National Prosecuting Authority announced that Zuma faced prosecution on corruption charges relating to the 1999 Arms Deal. He pleaded not guilty on 26 May 2021, but the trial was not scheduled to take place until early 2023. In July 2021, Zuma was imprisoned in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, for contempt of court for a separate legal matter. After testifying for less than three days at the Zondo Commission on state capture allegations, he refused to return, violating summons and a Constitutional Court order compelling his testimony. On 29 June 2021, the Constitutional Court sentenced him to fifteen months imprisonment. He was arrested on 7 July and released on medical parole two months later on 5 September. The high court rescinded his parole on 15 December. The parole was declared unlawful by the Supreme Court of Appeal, but it allowed the Department of Correctional Services to consider whether to deduct the time spent under it from his sentence. On 11 August 2023, the Department of Correctional Services granted Zuma remission of his 15-month sentence.

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