South African President Jacob Zuma and The Guardian newspaper have reached an undisclosed settlement. The latest development comes after he sued the British newspaper for describing him as a criminal and a rapist. The settlement was reached in London on 30 July 2009.
The March article also alleged Zuma was guilty of corruption and bribery arising out of his involvement in the arms deal. After libel proceedings began in March, the newspaper published an apology. But Zuma continued to proceed with the action against the paper's owners. In May, The Guardian offered to pay Zuma an undisclosed substantial amount in damages and to pay his legal costs.
Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says the President is extremely pleased that the matter has been concluded. Magwenya says Zuma has always believed in press freedom, but says in this particular instance, the publication crossed the line. He says the outcome serves as an example to the media worldwide that in carrying out their duties, they need to do so in a responsible manner.
After the settlement Zuma issued a statement in which he said: "What was said was extremely serious, not just for me but for the African National Congress." Although the publication had initially apologised for publishing damning statements about Zuma, his lawyer told the court that the apology was published less prominently than the original article and was initially unavailable online. Zuma’s lawyer then proceeded with the action against the paper's private owners, The Guardian News and Media group. – Additional reporting by Reuters