South Africa's popular former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, will be charged with corruption in a case in which an aide has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said Monday.
"On the basis of the evidence available, we think we have a case that can be successfully prosecuted," said Makhosini Nkosi, spokesman for the national prosecuting attorney. "Mr. Zuma must be ready to appear in court sometime this week."
Nkosi said Vusi Pikoli, director of public prosecutions, met with Zuma on Monday to inform him of the decision to bring charges, which will include two counts of corruption.
President Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma last week after Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of arranging bribes for Zuma.
The decision was widely hailed as a sign of Mbeki's determination to champion Africa's drive against official corruption -- a vexing subject for international donors, lenders and companies looking to invest in the continent.
In South Africa, however, the decision sparked controversy. Zuma, widely popular and until recently viewed as Mbeki's heir apparent, has denied any wrongdoing and hinted that he is the victim of a political conspiracy.
Shaik's trial and Zuma's subsequent dismissal have badly divided the ruling African National Congress. Zuma remains the party's deputy president and has a large following among the rank and file.
Political analysts said the decision to charge Zuma was further evidence of South Africa's determination to root out official corruption and that it could boost Mbeki's standing when he meets the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries at their summit next month in Scotland.
"The kinds of people who are worried about governance and corruption should be pleased with the decision," said Tom Lodge, a political scientist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.