Former South African President Jacob Zuma in Russia for medical treatment

Jacob Zuma in 2022

Jacob Zuma resigned from the presidency in February 2018 due to corruption allegations

Former South African President Jacob Zuma traveled to Russia last week for health reasons, according to his foundation.

“He will return to the country once his doctors have completed their treatment,” the statement said.

The announcement comes a day after the Constitutional Court upheld a ruling that Zuma was illegally granted medical parole in September 2021.

He had been released from prison after serving less than eight weeks of a 15-month sentence.

Zuma, now 81, had been jailed for failing to participate in a corruption investigation during his presidency.

He was forced to step down over the allegations in 2018 after nine years in office – but has repeatedly claimed he was the victim of a political conspiracy.

Mzwanele Manyi, spokesperson for the Jacob G Foundation, said it was releasing the information about Zuma’s trip to Russia due to media speculation.

“Although the trip was private, it was no secret as erroneously suggested,” he said, adding that Zuma and his team traveled “on a commercial flight full of passengers.”

The statement ended without saying when the former president would return to South Africa: “The foundation wishes its patron good health and a safe return home whenever doctors release him.”

At the end of last week, Zuma was in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, to attend a conference on carbon credits where he represented a Belarusian company.

It is unclear whether the former South African leader will return to prison following the Constitutional Court ruling.

The prison administration had asked the court for permission to appeal an earlier decision to send him back to prison. He said he was studying the judgment and would comment after seeking legal advice.

Zuma was first paroled for an undisclosed medical condition by former prison service chief Arthur Fraser, who is seen as an ally of the former president.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party welcomed the decision, saying it confirms Zuma “belongs in jail”.

He said he was writing a letter to the former president asking him to surrender voluntarily to be arrested “within a reasonable time”.

He surrendered two years ago after being found in contempt of court following a public confrontation.

His imprisonment then sparked widespread unrest – the worst scenes of violence since the end of apartheid in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president.

More than 350 people, mostly in Zuma’s stronghold in KwaZulu-Natal province, have died in the protests.

This led to allegations that his allies were seeking to overthrow the democratic South African government.

Zuma also faces a separate trial for bribery and fraud related to an arms deal in the late 1990s.

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